Brianna's Tips for Fiction Writing

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To excel in our writing careers, we must first know how to write a story the correct way. I've come up with a few tips to improve your writing skills, so if you feel you need some advice, feel free to read and learn :)

© Copyright 2014 BriannasBooks

Submitted: May 17, 2014

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Submitted: May 17, 2014

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Brianna's Tips for Fiction Writing

 

Not all authors will be perfect with their writing skills. Occasionally, we all make mistakes, ones that are quick and easy to look over and fix, while others may require some time. Young authors may struggle with their writing skills, fearing that their stories aren't good enough to be considered a “real” story. This article was created to help young writers to achieve their goals, and learn the proper concept of story writing.

 

So, without further a do, let's begin with the tips.

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1. Showing vs. Telling

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The most important thing you should know about story writing is that all of the facts about the characters are spread out throughout the story, not all at once. You may want to think about your telling vs. showing. Many authors seem to struggle with this part. If you are writing a novel, it is important to know that character traits don't usually flow out all in the first chapter, and you should drop little hints throughout the novel. Also, describing appearances can be quite difficult, and can compete with your telling vs. showing. Here's an example of telling:

 

 

Hello, my name is Cassidy, and I am seventeen years old. Let me tell you about my life; I'm thirteen years old, with brown hair that sits just past my shoulders and brown eyes. My height comes to about 5'3. I've always been short, and I'm also not very skinny either. My family consists of two brothers and one sister, my sister being older and all my brothers younger. Now I should get started with my story, about how I fell in love with Ben and how we got to where we are today...

 

Okay, now that is WAY too much information to take in all at once! You are going to want to avoid that as best you can. When you are telling, everything is too factual, and explained rather quickly, whereas showing is proving the character traits. In the paragraph above, we've already seen that Cassidy has brown hair, but to prove that she does, we can use her actions. For example:

 

 

Cassidy strolled into the cafeteria, flicking at her long brown hair as it fell in loose curls in front of her face.

 

Doesn't that sound so much better? As mentioned before, actions will help to prove that these facts and character traits are true, and it helps the reader to suspend their disbelief (meaning temporarily believing in something that does not exist for the purpose of entertainment, if you need the exact definition).

 

Now that we've established that, let's move on to the next tip.

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2. Dialogue

 

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Dialogue is another key point of writing a story. A reader really wants to see the chemistry between two characters, rather than through descriptions. In case you're not sure what dialogue is, it is the words the characters say in a story. A reader may lose interest in your story if the whole thing consists of descriptions. The words the characters say to one another will prove the relationship they have. This can also be another way to express emotion, especially if they are venting out their feelings to one another. You don't want to have a boring dialogue, either. They may be difficult to write, but try to relate their words to what is occurring in the plot as best you can. Let's bring in another example:

 

 

I just don't get why he doesn't like me back,” Cassidy sobbed. “All I went through to capture his attention, and he turns me down.”

 

Everything will be okay, I promise.” Lindsay wrapped her best friend in a tight hug, allowing her to sob on her shoulder.

 

 

Make sure you add quotation marks when dialogue is occurring, so the reader can easily indicate when someone is speaking. Also, make sure to add spaces whenever another person begins to talk, because it becomes easier to see whose words they are. Don't EVER do this:

 

 

I just don't get why he doesn't like me back, said Cassidy. All I went through to capture his attention. She ran a hand through her messy hair, and wiped the tears from her face. Everything will be okay, I promise, said Lindsay.

 

How are you going to know when someone is talking if there's no quotations? It is often confusing to read something like this, so please make it clear when dialogue is happening.

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3. Descriptions

 

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Descriptions play an important role in a story. You'll want to expand your vocabulary to make the scenes more clear to visualize. Try replacing small words with larger, more descriptive words. Descriptive stories have a better chance at capturing the attention of readers. Here's an example of lack of descriptions:

 

 

The dog bit the girl. It left a mark on her skin, and she cried.

 

 

Compare that sentence to this one:

 

 

The golden retriever sank his razor-sharp teeth into the little girl's flesh, instantly creating a deep bite mark on her arm. The arm now swelled like a balloon, exposing bare red skin from underneath. It felt like a knife had plunged into her arm, and a searing pain ripped its way through the mark. She began to weep silently, hoping the tears would somehow cure the pain.

 

Now that is definitely the winner in this situation. When rereading your story, try to pick out sentences that you think should be improved with more descriptions, and once you've completed the editing, you're good to go.

 

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4. Problems/Solutions

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In every story, there is usually a problem that the character tries to solve as the story continues. What you want is a problem that will capture the reader's attention and lure them into the story, something that will keep a reader's mind interested throughout the whole story. The story doesn't always have to have a happy ending, but the characters should be trying to work their way up to the solution. The characters don't have to fully solve the problem, but they should at least come close to it. If the characters never solve the problem, or never come close to it, there is technically no point to the story. To make your story even more interesting, try adding some shocking plot twists while the problem is close to being solved, as the story will get much more intense this way. This is what keeps a reader following along and enjoying a story, as they will want to find out what happens next. Make sure to keep this tip in mind while creating your story, as it is important to think about the struggle your characters will go through during the story and how they will get out of it.

 

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5. Plot Development

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Now this is one of the most important tips to keep in mind while writing a story. Don't EVER start a story that you haven't planned out! If you haven't thought about what the ending will be like, or what will happen in the short story/novel, you won't get too far. Writer's block will definitely get the best of you. Sometimes, writers have a stroke of genius, and the words just flow out onto paper too fast, and suddenly, there's nothing else to write. You don't necessarily have to have the dialogue planned out for each scenes, but you should at least have an idea for how the scenes will match your idea. Writers know that writer's block is quite frustrating, so avoiding it is key in writing a story.

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This is especially important for novels, because it is a much longer story. Before you begin your novel, here are some things to think over:

 

  • Do I really want to finish the story?

  • Is this a story worth writing?

  • Have I extended my thinking and come up with important scenes to add?

  • Do I know how the story will end?

 

Once each of these questions is checked off as “yes,” you are all set to write a novel! You are officially awesome!

 

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6. Research

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An optional tip to improve your writing skills is to research your topic. If it relates to real life, it helps to know extra about what you're writing to make it seem more realistic. Whether the piece of writing is fiction or non-fiction, it helps to conduct a little research.

 

 

For example, your wonderful idea could be about your wonderful characters travelling to outer space. If you know nothing about outer space other than the fact that it has no gravity, what else will you write? Research will help you to know the little facts about the place, so that your plot doesn't steer in the wrong direction. You don't necessarily have to base everything off real life events, but again, this tip is optional if you're thinking of improving.

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7. Tenses

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This tip is SO important to know. Look out for this in your writing. Your tenses have no reason to continuously switch up, unless your chapters are switching between past and present. Some writers don't happen to notice this, but others will, and it's okay if this is a constant mistake you make. Eventually, you'll learn to improve it.

 

Let's go through yet another example, shall we?

 

 

Myka wraps her arms around me in comfort, to show she's the only one out of us that truly knows my feelings. “It'll be okay,” she said. “Don't listen to them.” She gazed into my eyes as if it were my soul, and she could see into my mind.

 

Notice how at first it started out as present tense, and then gradually changed into past tense? Make sure to choose only one tense to write your story in, as it often gets confusing to follow. As mentioned before, switching tenses in different chapters are fine, as long as it's easy to follow, but try not to make it a habit throughout each chapter. Here's the fixed example:

 

Myka wraps her arms around me in comfort, to show she's the only one out of us that truly knows my feelings. “It'll be okay,” she says. “Don't listen to them.” She gazes into my eyes as if it is my soul, and she can see into my mind.

 

Much, much better here. It all makes sense now, doesn't it?

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8. Spelling/Grammar

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This is probably one of the most frustrating parts you will ever have to deal with, but make sure your spelling and grammar is correct! It is much more difficult to follow along if words are not spelled correctly, and if there is lack of punctuation or unnecessary punctuation. If you have a spell check on your computer, make sure to use that, as it is very helpful, although it doesn't recognize certain words or names. And 'English isn't my first language' should never be your excuse.

 

Also, make sure that you are using full words. Numbers should be written as full words, not expressed as just a number.

 

For example:

 

 

Mike is 10 years old should really be Mike is ten years old.

 

 

Also, never use acronyms (depending on what they mean)! Understand that some are so much harder to understand than you think they are. If you have missing letters and numbers all over the place, how will we know what you mean?

 

Let's bring in a really good example:

 

 

I wnt 2 d store nd bot a cndy bar. I 8 it nd d owner yelld. I h8 lyf so much.

 

 

Nothing will truly piss you off until you read something like this, so DEFINITELY keep this tip in mind!

 

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9. Point of Views

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This tip should be kept in mind if you are writing a novel with multiple POVs. The idea of switching POVs per chapter is unique because we get to look inside the minds of the characters without using third person. But often, it gets complicated, so make sure to indicate whose POV it is.

 

Try not to continuously switch up your POVs all in one chapter, because again, it will get complicated to keep up with. If you switch POVs every chapter, it is usually easier to follow along, because the whole chapter is about looking inside the mind of one person rather than two or three.

 

And in case you weren't sure, a point-of-view should always be told in first person, because it is being told from the character's perspective.

 

With that being said, let's move on to one of the most important tips to keep in mind:

 

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10. Self-confidence

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Of course, it's good to have a lot of confidence in yourself, because that could get you far with your writing career. If you believe you suck at writing, and nothing can convince you that you are worth being an author, then you might as well kiss your career goodbye. Not that it's meant in a rude way; it just shows that confidence will really help you excel in your writing.

 

If you fall in love with the vision of your writing rather than your words, your writing will become easier (quoted from Nora DeLoach). And although confidence is most definitely a good thing to have, you shouldn't have too much. Believe in yourself, but don't think you're better than everyone else.

 

If you're all high up on your horse and think you're the top of the line, your works won't go too far. As mentioned before, it's good to have a lot of confidence, but not to the point of believing that you have written a masterpiece that will destroy everyone's hopes of ever becoming an author. Thinking “My works are the bomb, all the publishers are gonna love me for my talent and I get to laugh at everyone else because they suck” is definitely not the way to think! You can kiss your sweet dreams goodbye as well with that thought.

 

So the main lesson here is to believe in yourself to a point. Your dreams mean everything to you, and thinking positive thoughts during the process will definitely help you to achieve them. You are going to experience many ups and downs on the way there, but someday you will get there. So let your imagination soar to its extent and have fun with your writing.

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Author's note: I have been meaning to post this for quite a while now, so I hope you found this helpful. Keep in mind I am no professional, I am just trying to help others to improve their writing. I hope you enjoyed reading!


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