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Here are 5 key tips for fiction writing:
- Add some unpredictability–when the readers knows what’s coming it’s a dull ride down a familiar street. How to fix? Try putting something unexpected in every scene by making lists. Think what might happen in 3 areas (description, action, & dialogue) and force 5 alternatives…don’t pick the first!
- Avoid soft dialogue–dialogue can make or break a story. Aim for compressed dialogue with conflict and different for each character. How to fix? Develop each character independently first; consider a character journal. Include ample tension between characters. In re-writes cut and compress dialogue as much as possible.
- Incorporate death–the threat of death will keep readers with you until the end. And remember death to character can come in at least 4 forms (physical, physiological, professional, & personal). Physical is what we normally think of, but don’t forget threat or death of a life-long career, loss or death of close personal friendship, and physiological or dying on the inside to be with someone or commit some act.
- Avoid excessive happiness–see point #1, readers need tension to stay interested and frankly to make your story more believe; life is filled with drama and unfortunately sad events. People watch reality TV simply because of it’s drama, excitement, and predictability; they will read your stories for the same reasons. Consider adding more threats, challenges, changes, or troubles.
- Make connections–and this applies to any writing, people love and yes, yearn for stories they can get lost in by either seeing themselves part of or being sincerely moved by the actions of one or more characters. And see point #4, that movement doesn’t always have to be happy…in real life people can be moved or changed by a significant bad event in their lives much quicker than by good or happy events. Keep that in mind for your characters as well as your readers.
Character development can by difficult…try these tips:
- Create a list of questions you might ask that character and fill it out
- Describe background of character, for example, culture, childhood, education, career
- List defining events in that characters life–graduation, marriage, divorce, deaths, childhood abuse, lay-off
- Free write about the character by picking specific moment in time and let action unfol
- Free write about the character by picking an emotional event in your life and see how character would react
- Brainstorm a list of 10+ personality traits and ~5 physical features
- Draw connections/links between other characters and describe traits as viewed by other characters
- Choose a hobby you familiar with and ascribe that to the character
- Choose an interest you aren’t familiar with, research it, talk to experts in that area, and then build character around what you learn
5 Simple Sentence Structure tips:
- Use concrete subjects and verbs
- Place most dramatic material at the end of the sentence
- Make sure every pronoun has a clear antecedent
- Avoid too many adjectives and adverbs
- Vary sentence structure