9 More Tips on Writing Fiction

It’s been a while (a few months, in fact) since I first wrote about my personal rules for writing fiction. Since then I’ve added to the list, and I thought it might be a good idea to share with all of you. Without any further ado, here they are:

  1. There should be an easily discernable main plot. As a reader, it bothers me when I can’t figure out which of three different conflicts I’m supposed to care about. Especially when they hardly seem connected.
  2. Dialogue moves stories forward. The overwhelming majority of conflicts in fiction are interpersonal, so of course the main way they progress is through interactions between people.
  3. Focus on the story. If a story is good readers will forgive stylistic problems, but if it’s bad the best writing in the world won’t save you. In the end, readers read because they want a story to take them away, not to observe the technical perfection of your prose.
  4. Write as simply as you can. The only justification for a complex word is if there’s absolutely no other accurate replacement, and the only time to use a semi-colon is when a period or comma would be grammatically incorrect.
  5. Break the mold. Develop a unique style by defying the conventions other authors take for granted.
  6. Don’t write the sequel until and unless your first novel’s a hit. Most sequels don’t sell as well as the first novel in the series, for obvious reasons.
  7. Research when necessary, but don’t make it obvious. Readers don’t like info dumps.
  8. Stay true to a clear chain of causality. X happened, resulting in y; never x happened, and then sometime later an unrelated event moved the story along. The plot should be an easy-to-follow series of escalating events.
  9. Believe in yourself. God, that’s such an overused cliché… But sometimes it’s the only way to get through a bad review or particularly detailed critique. Cultivate that voice in your head that says, “I’m amazing and what I’ve written is pretty amazing too.

Sometimes the only thing keeping you going is a lie, and sometimes you have to fake a strength that doesn’t exist. Maybe we’re all just inflatable tanks on the cliff top. Or maybe I’m in a weird mood this morning and you should probably just ignore that attempt at being poetic.

Haha, at any rate, thanks for reading. Can you think of any points to add to the list? Would you take any away? Feel free to leave a comment down below!

3 thoughts on “9 More Tips on Writing Fiction

  1. Personally, I think that the reason most sequels don’t sell so well is because they WEREN’T planned ahead, and so they seem kind of forced, and not really related to the original story as well as they could have been if they had already been planned….

    1. Perhaps… I agree that a forced sequel (where the author seems to want to change details in their first novel to make the second one easier to write) aren’t any fun to read.
      It may just be me, but I can’t remember a sequel ever out-selling the original novel, even for a bestselling series. And logically, I think it makes sense. After all, it’s rare to meet someone willing to read novels out of order, which means a sale of the sequel almost always means a sale of novel #1.

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