Tip Thursday: 10 tips for Fiction Writers

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Here’s just a few tips I’ve used that have been beneficial to me.  It’s probably close to essential for me actually and I’d like to think that it’s probably close to that for all fiction writers out there.

  • Start With a Seed
  • Most, if not all, of my books are simply a product of asking the question, “What if…?”  That’s all it usually takes and then let your imagination run wild.  There are no constraints in fiction, except the ones you put on yourself, so start tiny and work big. 

  • Let the Story Tell Itself
  • Think of yourself as only the narrator of someone else’s life.  In the newage sense of the word, your “channeling” someone else’s reality and cataloging what happens.  It’s okay to plot, but don’t get so caught up in your outline that your not letting the characters be themselves.  

  • Use Realistic Characters and Dialogue
  • This is accomplished through many different approaches.  As a writer, you must learn to hone your powers of observation and watch people and how they interact.  Research can come in a variety of forms, from reading other authors to watching movies as well.  Keen observation skills and personal experience will help guide you through this aspect of fiction writing.

  • Write What You Know
  • This is a well-known mantra for fiction writers, yet many fail to adhere to this simple principle of fiction writing.  When you write about things you know and experiences you’ve had, the writing is easier to read and comes across as more authentic.  Another thing is to write in the genre you read.  Don’t start writing Sci-Fi if you’ve never and have no interest in seeing Star Trek(or any other Science Fiction staple).  

  • Become a “shut in”
  • When you’re ready to start, find a place away from distraction  If you are planning on writing a long work of fiction, you will essentially be “living in the story.”  Be prepared to shut yourself in as you work on bringing your tale to life.  Turn the phones off, as well as the Internet.  Let your significant others know you’ll be unavailable from this time to this time.  If you have kids, this will be a bit harder, but it can be done.

  • Keep Moving Forward
  • Don’t get caught up in the past; keep writing each day without taking time to go back and reread.  You’ll have time to fix everything later.  Even if you only spend 10 or 15 minutes everyday writing, it’ll keep you on the right track and stave off writer’s block.  

  • Put it Away When You’re Finished
  • When you’re finished, put it away.  Shove it in a drawer, ignore the file on your harddrive.  Whatever it takes to let it sit and settle for awhile.  I usually send mine to a critique partner and it can take anywhere from 2 days to 2 months to get your ms back, so you’ll have a decent length of time between the finish and the revisions.  In the meantime…

  • Start a New Project
  • Get started right away on a new WIP to increase the space between you and your previous work.  This will help you to come back with a new perspective and keep your productivity level high in the process.  Not to mention keeping your creative juices flowing.

  • Return to Your Finished Product
  • After some time has passed, pull out your manuscript and read the piece with a pair of fresh eyes.  Chances are you will find ways to improve upon and revise the story to make it flow more smoothly.  Sometimes it will unfortunately mean rewriting it.  As what happened to me with my first, FALLEN.  I went back with fresh eyes and realized how horrible it was.  Now I’ve rewritten it, given it a new title and it’s MUCH better than it was.  

  • Revise and Edit
  • Cuts will have to be made and the revision process can be time consuming, but will help out when you’re ready to share your work with at least 5 beta readers.  Make sure that you polish your work as much as possible before giving it out to others for their opinions.  Eliminating clutter and proofreading errors will help to get honest feedback without trivial details getting in the way.  Keep in mind though, that no matter how well you edit, there will always be something you miss and don’t let it fluster you.  No one is perfect.


    I hope these 10 tips helped and gave you a little insight on how I do my writing process.  How do you write?  Is there something you do that I didn’t mention?  Go ahead and post your answers in the comments section.




    4 Responses to “Tip Thursday: 10 tips for Fiction Writers”

    1. lynnrush says:

      >GREAT tips. Right on target. I have such trouble putting a new project away for a few weeks after I type THE END, though.

      Yeah, I just get so excited to get back into their worlds and cause trouble. LOL

      But it's really important to step away, then return later for fleshing out the characters (for me anyway)…

      Great post.

    2. jasouders says:

      >Thanks, Lynn. And yes, that's the biggest thing for me to. Ask my beta reader/critique partner, she's always telling me I'm too inpatient. LOL. : )

    3. Liz Czukas says:

      >Great tips! Sounds an awful lot like my process. The only thing I would add is to get at least three chapters written before you let anyone see it the first time. If find myself going back to the first 30 pages a lot after I find my character's voice, and if too many people see it before I get that chance, it can be frustrating.

      Excellent post!

      – Liz

    4. RavenClark says:

      >Those are really great tips. Very helpful.

      The one thing I would add is to avoid putting it away for too long. When you read a book and put it down for too long, it gets difficult to go back. You lose your thread, and in writing, you lose some feel for the world/character voice, ect. It's good to let it settle, but don't let it grow moss.

      Raven