13 Fiction Writing Tips

The Fiction Writing Tips
You Must Have to Survive
And Thrive as a Fiction Writer

For Fiction Writing Tips there are two definitions that apply:

1. Warning or information -- an item of advice or confidential information that may give the person who receives it an advantage.

2. Helpful hint -- a useful suggestion or idea for doing something.

Considering the above the best "tips" for anyone pursuing the writing of fiction either as a hobby or profession -- aside from "The Elements of Fiction" as discussed on another page -- are the following: fiction writing tips

13 Fiction Writing Tips

The first two tips are simple - but often overlooked.

1. Establish a regular work schedule.
The absolute worst mistake writers make is relying on inspiration - "the Muse". If one expects to be a working writer, then they have to "work" -- which means showing up on a regular basis and putting in their prescribed hours and/or producing their targeted daily word count. "Inspiration" has nothing to do with it.

2. Keep a journal.
(see the page on Journal Writing for a discussion of this invaluable writer's tool) (coming soon)

These next 4 Fiction Writing Tips --
are VITAL but you've probably never heard of them before.

This next one of the Fiction Writing Tips -- Is consistently taught to writers -- backwards!

3. Know what you write.
Rather than the too-often repeated advise of "write what you know". This means, do your homework, research, investigation, study, etc., so that you know what you are writing about.

This one of the Fiction Writing Tips isn't taught backwards - it just isn't taught at all.

4. The 80/20 rule.
Spend 80% of your time on story conception, story design, planning, and research and 20% on the composition of the story (what most people think of as writing).

Most writers do this backwards - because no one ever told them the 80/20 rule. All successful projects consist of 80% planning and 20% execution.

5. Establish the end of the story first.
Start with the event and then work backwards. This is the basic concept behind story conception & story design. (Read "The Philosophy of Composition" by Edgar Allan Poe to see what this legend had to say about this vital point.)

6. Establish the minimum of what to leave in.
The problem of writing a good story is not so much "what to put in", as, "what to leave out". Consider the analogy of the sculptor: the statue is already contained in the stone -- his job is to remove everything that is not the statue.

Good writing is lean and meaningful. If the story doesn't NEED it -- leave it out! fiction writing tips

Now these Fiction Writing Tips are going to start getting personal...

7. Easy doesn't mean good.
Just because typing the words came easy doesn’t make them good. Because the ideas, actions, characters, scenes "just flowed from your pen" or keyboard does not make it a "good story" or "good writing". Good writing is good storytelling. And good storytelling is more about the structure than anything else - and that starts with good design.

Of all the Fiction Writing Tips -- this will knock you on your ear.

8. It’s not about the words.
Too many writers (especially starting out) get hung up on trying to be clever, and overly creative with "the words". The best writing is invisible to the reader - replaced with the images and emotions conjured into the reader's mind and heart. Being overly creative in the "writing" draws undue attention to the writer and distracts the reader from the images and emotions that constitute the actual experience of the story.

Fancy writing is like having the playwright tramp on stage every two minutes, shouting, "Look at me. See how clever I am!"

Of all the Fiction Writing Tips - this next one blows away the "talent myth".

9. Good writing must be learned.
Writers are not born they are made - through the discipline of careful observation, study of what works, how and why it works; and practice, lots of practice in the fundamentals. (See Elements of Fiction)

It not only CAN be learned - it must be learned. fiction writing tips

These Fiction Writing Tips deserve special attention.

10. Attack the subject.

Regarding the subject of fiction writing (or any subject for that matter): The student only has 5 options:

  • The Whatever Feels Good Option -- Succumb
  • One can consider that "no one knows", "it can't be known" and it really doesn't matter anyway. "If I throw enough crap against the wall I might just get lucky". This is a sure way to succumb to the subject.

  • The Trial and Error Option -- Neglect
  • One can understand that although they may not know it all, they have the viewpoint that there is no "correct" methodology or "right way" so they'll just figure it out as they go along. This would be a covert way of Neglecting the subject.

  • There is Nothing to Know Option -- Avoid
  • a.k.a. "I already know-it-all". One can consider that they already know it all or that there isn’t anything to know anyway about the subject and just launch into trying to create stories "off the top of their heads". This is a sure way to Avoid the subject.

  • The Random Option -- Flee
  • One can randomly read books on writing and willy-nilly try to learn a thing or two. The viewpoint here seems to be: "I’ll find what I need when I need it". This would be a way of Fleeing from the subject.

  • The "Right Way" Option -- Attack
  • One can approach the subject from the viewpoint that there is a "right way" for everything and their objective is to discover that methodology, study, apply, and master it. This would be an Attack of the subject.

For those considering Self Publishing - get the facts before you dive in and waist a lot of time, and money and make a damn fool out of yourself.

The "Right Way" Option -- Attack is the only option that is going to achieve mastery over Fiction Writing or any other subject.

But -- the Attack must be focused at the correct point, or all efforts will be in vain. Any General will tell you that.

fiction writing tips

These next Fiction Writing Tips need an introduction...

Consider this analogy:

There is a castle you must capture (the castle of successful Fiction Writing).

This castle is surrounded by 50-foot-thick walls, standing 200 feet high. These walls are made of steel-reinforced, high-strength concrete. They are impenetrable.

Even a direct hit with a nuclear-tipped missile would only make a smudge on those walls -- and you ain't got no nukes anyway. fiction writing tips

Your ONLY options are -

Beat relentlessly on the reinforced, high-strength concrete walls, until you die of old age, or

Find the wooden door - every fortress must have a door.

And having found the door:

Beat relentlessly on the wooden door until your knuckles bleed, or

Find the KEY to the door, unlock it and stroll inside. Smart wins over brute force every time.

But lacking just this one -- of all the Fiction Writing Tips -- we wouldn't even know we're supposed to look for the door or the key.

The subject of fiction writing is just like that castle: Surrounded by impenetrable walls of confusion, half-truths, omitted information and downright lies.

One can lay siege to those walls till blue in the face, hell freezes over or Santa Claus comes down your chimney -- or one can find the wooden door!

Unfortunately the door is cloaked (obviously) and even if someone should stumble upon it -- it's locked.

One can beat on the door - but no one will answer - and fists won't open it or even bombs. (Hay, this is my story.)

One needs a key. And not just any key - one must have the exact, right key. fiction writing tips

This brings us to three of the most valuable Fiction Writing Tips.

11. The "door" to the subject of writing fiction is: the understanding of what one is trying to produce as a fiction writer.

The Valuable Final Product of a fiction writer is a "story".

That’s the secret; cloaked, hidden, obscured, never-to-be-looked-at DOOR to the Kingdom of the Fiction Writer. fiction writing tips

But the door is locked!

The previous Fiction Writing Tips will help you find the Door -- but only this one will get you INSIDE.

12. The "Key" to the lock on that door is the correct, complete, and exact definition of the word "Story".

And just like any key - half right, almost, and close won't open the lock.

To master the subject of writing fiction one MUST start with the correct, complete, and exact definition of the word "Story".

(see Elements of Fiction - for the exact definition of "Story")

That definition ALONE will get us through the door and inside the walls. fiction writing tips

Once inside, you can stroll through the treasure houses -- it's all there for the taking -- anything you want -- everything you've always dreamed of. Stuff your pockets, fill up a bag, back up a truck - you can have it all...

Every issue, question, problem, concern, tip, trick, technique - revealed:

  1. What a story is,
  2. What a story does,
  3. How it accomplishes that end, and
  4. How stories are constructed

This website is dedicated to providing the "keys" to the kingdom and answering all those questions - and more. fiction writing tips

I'll leave you with this last of the Fiction Writing Tips -- lucky number 13

13. Fiction Writing is EASY -- when you learn how.

And it not only can be learned - it must be learned.

Any fool can make up stuff and write it down. Any moron can write enough words on paper to fill a book. But it would be gibberish.

The trick - the whole trick is getting the RIGHT words in the RIGHT sequence to create the desired emotional and intellectual effect in the mind and heart of the reader.

The SECRET is that it can be learned.

Almost anything can be accomplished if you go about it the right way. But the reciprocal is also true. Almost nothing can be accomplished if you go about it the wrong way.

fiction writing tips

Even a blind man can climb Everest! But not without the training, preparation, planning and equipment suited to the task.

But every day I see people (otherwise intelligent, hardworking people) who hop off the couch and attempt to climb the Everest of Fiction Writing in nothing more then their street clothes, and with no more planning or preparation than a trip to the grocery store.

And they wonder why they struggle... why they fail... and why they eventually give up.

Now in all fairness - some people LIKE the struggle. Some even think it's part of the deal of being a Fiction Writer. Or, they just get caught up in one of the non-working "options" listed under Tip # 10 and spend their life doing something other than Attacking the subject.

These, and other "ideas" just like them, are only some of the numerous lies that make up the steel-reinforced, high-strength concrete walls of the fortress.

So, there you have 13 of the most valuable "Fiction Writing Tips".

I've walked you to the front door of the subject. I've given you the key to that door. And now that you're inside the otherwise impenetrable walls -- spend some time on this website studying the subject like an insider.

Study these Fiction Writing Tips and other pages, and all the other Secrets of this magical world of Fiction Writing will be revealed.

fiction writing tips

Students with learning disabilities are being aided by supplemental education programs, such as the Wilson Reading Program, which helps students read, write, and spell successfully.

Bonus Tip #14

  • If you're going to write - Publish.
  • If you're going to publish - Self Publish.
  • If you're going to Self Publish - Get The Facts before you dive in and waste a lot of time and money, and make a damn fool of yourself.

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See this site Write-Better-Fiction.com for some great info on writing fiction.

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© copyright 2011 - Richard A McCullough is the creator & editor of http://www.write-better-fiction.com the Fiction Writers source for Writing Better Fiction Faster and Selling More of What You Write.

Copyright - you may freely republish this article, provided the text, author credit, active links and this copyright notice remain intact.

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