Fiction for Beginners
The best writing comes after you’ve thoroughly revised your draft over a period of months (or years) with feedback from peers and/or editors along the way. Because writing is a long process, don’t hold back; release your creative juices and see where your imagination takes you. You’ll often find that taking chances with your writing will bring your story to new and interesting places that you never anticipated. Don’t be afraid to fail the first, second or third time — writing is all about delayed gratification!
Find a place to write where you feel comfortable, a place where you know you can concentrate. Try turning off your cell phone and don’t check your email. Allot a block of time to just focus on writing.
Begin your story in the middle of an action. What is at stake? Avoid a story where your character(s) spends the whole time pondering ideas, questioning or worrying instead of confronting the issue head on. Consider themes such as loss, ethics, morals, religion, secrets and lies.
Keep it simple. Instead of wasting your time trying to invent a novel plot, start by creating an unusual character who has quirks, defining traits and desires. From here, you can give dimension to your character by introducing his/her family and friends with whom they can interact and figure out how to escape a predicament. Your story will build off of this strong foundation of characters who have different human flaws and desires.
Most importantly, make your story entertaining. Readers want to be surprised, uncomfortable, happy, annoyed, etc. Stay truthful to your audience and make your plot and characters relatable. Make your characters struggle, fail, achieve goals and learn.
You can write a successful story with one plot track. However, as you become a more confident writer, try to incorporate multiple plot tracks or points of view. This will deepen the complexity of your story as the tracks and points of view work off each other.
Bring all your important characters into the same room. Watch them interact. Increase the tension. Make your characters learn something about him/herself or each other.
Cut chunks (yes, I mean multiple pages) if they’re not working well. Try deleting the first five pages of your initial draft; writers often use this space to get familiar with the characters and plot tracks. You might have spent hours slaving over those pages but your piece will be better off in the long run.
Step away from your work for a day or two. This doesn’t mean you should forget about your story; brainstorm ideas as you’re running in the park or cooking dinner. Keep a pen and paper handy if an idea pops into mind.
Get over your fear of letting others read your writing. Peer editing is essential for checking the meaning, sense and clarity of your piece. You may be surprised to find that one person’s interpretation of a scene is drastically different from your own.
Don’t worry about writing the “perfect” ending until the rest of your story is exactly where you want it to be. Make sure your story expands outward; you don’t have to tell the reader everything but give enough clues so that the reader understands what will happen in the future. Your ending should be surprising yet inevitable.