Creative Writing Tips
That Debunk The Myths About
Creative Writing

Here's a list of some of the best creative writing tips for fiction writers. As such there isn't a lot of "explanation". For that you'll want to study the other pages of this site where I go into detail about most, if not all, of these tips.

  1. The most important word for the fiction writer to understand is the word "story".
  2. Of all the creative writing tips that I could give any fiction writer the definition of the word "story" is undoubtedly the most important.

    Definition: story - a fictional narrative, consisting of an introduction leading either to an event (or two causally related incidents, culminating in an event) and ending with a conclusion of the premise of the narration.

    No, you wont find this definition in your dictionary. It probably got lost about 500 years ago.

  3. A story is not just a bunch of stuff that happened.
  4. Non-fiction is not a story. Many people will want to argue with this creative writing tip. But if you persist in believing that non-ficiton is a story then your writing will persist in being sub-par.
  5. Writing good fiction is all about story. The quality of the story is paramount. The writing only has to be "good enough" to convey the story without getting in the way of the reading experience.
  6. To tell a story one must first have a story to tell.
  7. There is no shortage of story ideas. They are quite literally everywhere. The problem is working that "idea" into a good story and then figuring out how to tell it well enough.
  8. What people refer to as "writing" is actually composed of two basic parts. Creating a story worth telling, and telling that story.
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  10. Writers are not born they are made. And that making consists of studying the technology of storytelling and practicing to perfection what you've studied.
  11. The Technology of Storytelling (or any technology for that matter) consists of:
    • Correct Nomenclature
    • Correct Raw Materials
    • Correct Tools
    • Correct Sequences
    • Correct Procedures
    • Correct Technique
    • In about that order of importance.

      It's not hard to see that a writer needs a good deal more than a few creative writing tips to become proficient in the craft of effective storytelling.

  12. To understand the nomenclature one must understand the subject but to understand the subject one must understand the nomenclature. Yes it's circular. So dive in and start peddling.
  13. There is no shortcut to becoming a good craftsman other than, hard study and consistent practice.
  14. As John Wooden said, "Practice doesn't make perfect, only perfect practice makes perfect". Meaning, to become good at writing you must practice doing it "the right way".
  15. There is a write way to everything (including writing fiction) and then there are all the other ways. What makes one way "right" and the others "wrong". The right way produces the best product in the shortest time and with the least expenditure of resources.
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  17. The hobbyist writes for his own edification with no intention of selling what he writes. The Professional writer works under the direct or indirect control of a boss or publisher. In which the publisher makes all the profit and the write often dies broke and broken. The fellow who makes writing fiction his business reaps all the profit and controls his own destiny. Only you can decide what kind of writer you want to be. If you don't decide someone else will decide for you. But you probably won't like their decision.
  18. There is a structure to a story.
    1. Short format stories (short stories and 1-Act Plays) consists of:
      • Introduction
      • Event
      • Conclusion

    2. Long format stories (novels, screenplays and 3-Act plays) consists of:
      • Introduction
      • First Incident
      • Second Incident
      • Event
      • Conclusion

    3. The long format story is essentially 3 short stories bracket and bound together by the same Introduction and Conclusion.

    To work out this structure you'll need what I call "The Story Engine".

    You can find out more about "The Story Engine" here.

  19. TV sit. com.'s and dramas are not "stories" as they have no Conclusion, which is why they are called "episodic".
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  21. Newspaper stories are not "stories" as they have no Premise, Introduction or Conclusion and should therefore be referred to as "articles" or simply "news".
  22. To tell a story the writer must have something to "say". This is best described as a premise which the story will illustrate. In fact if any narrative is not illustrating a premise it not a "story". It might be something else but it's not a story.
  23. What the reader is buying is not a book, novel or even as story. What the reader is buying is the emotional and intellectual experience derived from what is commonly called "reading" the story.
  24. Diagramming sentences won't make you a writer any more than demolishing houses will make you a carpenter.
  25. Stories must be designed from back to front, meaning from Conclusion to Introduction.
  26. Don't bother trying to write the first page or even chapter of your novel until you've written the last.
  27. There are at least two plot lines in your story; one for the Protagonist and one for the Antagonist. Weaving them together into one story is a primary design consideration.
  28. Story tension is not flying fist or bullets it's the reader's constant awareness of two or more possible outcomes for every situation.
  29. Each chapter exists for one and only one purpose - to move the story inexorably to the next chapter and finally the climax. In addition chapters must also reveal character and manipulate tension.
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  31. Story tension does not always increase (as in a straight line) but rather ebbs and flows in waves while trending higher. With slight temporarily decreases after the sub-climax of each Incident.
  32. The purpose and function of the Protagonist and the Antagonist is each the same; to illustrate a separate but apposed premise. If the story is a love triangle then the "love interest" may illustrate yet a third but related premise.
  33. Sex and violence is gratuitous and unnecessary except to move the story along or reveal character.
  34. It's best to stick to one Point Of View (POV) throughout the story. Some people confuse 3-Rd person Omnipotent with multiple POV's. But they are not the same thing.
  35. Use "He said" and "She said" religiously for dialogue unless you have a really, really compelling reason to do otherwise. And if you MUST throw in something else, use it only in extreme moderation and only if you absolutely MUST.
  36. If you have a Thesaurus - throw it away. Stick with using the words you know and are comfortable with.
  37. Your writing should be invisible to the reader. Don't call attention to yourself. That would be like the playwright walking out onto the stage in the middle of Act-3 and saying, "Look at me, aren't I clever!"
  38. The reader is not buying clever wordsmithing. They are buying the emotional and intellectual experience they derive from reading. You are writing for them, not to show how smart you are.
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  40. Chapters should only be long enough to accomplish their assigned task. When a chapter has accomplished its task - move on.

That's a batch of the most important creative writing tips.

But if you really want to learn how to write effective fiction that sells you need to dig a lot deeper than mere "tips".

You'll need to study the subject and the best place to start is here. With what I call "The Story Engine".

You can find out more about "The Story Engine" here.


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