Fiction Writing Tips For Beginners

Writing can be difficult for someone starting out. For the beginner getting into fiction writing, here are a few tips:

Establish a Setting

As someone who critiques on Wattpad, too often do I see characters just dropped into an empty world. There are places the character goes to, but those places are never described. This is where descriptions come in handy. What does your character’s house look like? What season is it? Is the character in a small town or a large city?

That being said, it’s also important not to get too “telly” when establishing a setting. Whenever possible, take the opportunity to show:

Tell: It had just become fall. 

Show: The leaves had begun to surrender their green coats for gold, red, and orange ones. 

Avoid the Mirror Trick

“The mirror trick”, as I like to call it, is where the main character stands in front of a mirror and describes what they look like:

I dragged myself out of bed and made my way over to the mirror. I have blond hair and boring green eyes and freckles that I hated. 

There are other ways to bring in hints of your character’s appearance without them describing how they look in a mirror. One of the tricks I use is having another character mention something about their appearance, or just use little inconveniences to my advantage like so:

The woman looked at my driver’s licence and frowned. “It says you have blue eyes on here…” 

It was my turn to frown. “Well that can’t be right: my eyes are clearly brown. Must be a typo.”

In my opinion, it’s okay to withhold information about your main character’s appearance. You don’t need to describe him or her all at once–especially if you’re writing in first person.

Do Your Research

Research is important. If you’re writing a story that takes place in 1950s America, then there better not be any modern day slang or mannerisms. Smartphones before the mid 2000s is a no-no, and flat screen tvs were not around in the 1960s.

This isn’t just for historical fiction, this also goes for military stories, doctor stories, crime fiction, etc. The last thing you want is someone who is a doctor, a policeman, or a sergeant criticize your story because it’s horribly inaccurate.

Now, do you have to be 100 percent accurate in whatever you’re writing about? Not really, no. In some cases, you might find that you need to ignore a fact to advance your story. Regardless, you should have a firm grasp of the topic/time period you’re writing about.

Proofread Your Work

If there’s one thing that turns me off while reading a story, it’s coming across multiple spelling and punctuation issues. Now let’s face it: everyone makes mistakes. However, when your mistakes make it unbearable to read, that’s a problem. If you’re unsure about whether to use a comma, a semi colon, or a colon, sites like GrammarBook.com and The Punctuation Guide can help you.

Write What You Want, Not What’s Popular

This is the most important things on this list. Do not be pressured into writing something you don’t want to write about. Just because everyone else is writing about hot billionaires doesn’t mean you have to! If your passion is something in the science fiction realm, then go for that instead! Chances are you’ll have more fun developing your story following something you love.

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