Welcome to Writing Fiction!
Have you ever wondered why people write? I mean, why bother? It’s hard work, it’s frustrating, and it’s sedentary when we should be riding our bicycles.
I can understand why we read, but why write?
It’s the most frustrating yet satisfying process I’ve ever experienced. And I write every day with part of my head in the story all the time.
I guess what keeps me writing is that I lose myself. I can create another world—the world my characters live in. That alone is all-consuming.
How do you know where to start?
I suspect all relatively new writers experience the same problems. I started with short stories because they’re more contained. Then I just began my first novel. The characters came and the plot developed. Not everyone does it that way; in fact, most writers plot before they write. At least that’s what I’ve read. But here are a few things I learned that helped.
I try not to over explain things.
I show things rather than telling the reader about them.
I plot just enough to create structure for my story.
I try to avoid linking verbs and passive constructions. I use active verbs whenever I can.
I use dialogue and character description to reveal feelings and attitudes. For example, rather than saying Harry was always well-dressed, I say Harry wore a grey linen suit, a dove grey shirt, and a maroon tie with little anchors on it. He’d used a Windsor knot and had tucked a maroon handkerchief in his breast pocket.
I try to let the reader see my characters. So instead of saying Sally was scared, I say Sally stopped breathing. Her face went white, and her mouth opened in a silent scream. This way my reader gets to feel a bit like Sally.
Then there’s point of view. I still have trouble with that one, but generally I try to let one character dominate a scene. Everything is seen through his or her eyes, so the narrator sets the perspective on things.
I learned that dialogue needs contractions to sound right. Nobody says I have eaten more than I should. We all say I’ve eaten more than I should.
I often have to research stuff I don’t know enough about. I have to sound competent, but I don’t have to become an expert.
There are so many challenging aspects to writing fiction. Share your ideas! We can learn together!