10 Tips to Improve Your Fiction Writing Skills
This post was contributed by Kelly Kilpatrick, who writes on the subject of distance learning universities.
Writing fiction, whether short or long, can be a very trying experience indeed. So many writers of fiction have different processes for achieving their writing goals that it’s hard to sift through what works and what doesn’t.
Writing is a process that requires skill, determination, adaptability, and plenty of time. Here are some suggestions for improving your fiction writing skills, gleaned from trial and error over time.
1. Start With a Seed
Some great fiction books are simply a product of asking the question, “What if…?” Starting a new work of fiction requires just a small seed to get you going. Beginning without too much baggage can really help get the ball rolling.
2. Let the Story Tell Itself
Think of yourself as a medium, or a vehicle, for a story that wants to be told. You may have some idea about where things are going, but don’t create too many constraints for yourself. The story will unfold if you are ready to work hard on keeping up with what it has to say.
3. Use Realistic Characters and Dialogue
This is accomplished through many different approaches. As a writer, you must learn to hone your powers of observation and watch people and how they interact. Research can come in a variety of forms, from reading other authors to watching movies. Keen observation skills and personal experience will help guide you through this aspect of fiction writing.
4. Write What You Know
This is a well-known mantra for fiction writers, yet many fail to adhere to this simple principle of fiction writing. When you write about things you know and experiences you’ve had, the writing is easier to read and comes across as more authentic.
5. Close the Door
When you’re ready to get down to business, find a place where you can go to tune the rest of the world out. If you are planning on writing a long work of fiction, you will essentially be “living in the story.” Be prepared to shut yourself in as you work on bringing your tale to life.
6. Keep Pushing Forward
Don’t get caught up in the past; keep writing each day without taking time to go back and reread. The time for reading what you have written will come, and that’s when you can fix any inconsistencies. Keep writing and worry about the minute details during the revision process. Dedicating specific amounts of time regularly will help you to get the project finished sooner rather than later.
7. Put it Away When You’re Finished
When you feel your story has come to a close, put it away. Get it out of your sight and try your best not to revisit the work while the story is fresh in your mind. Putting some distance between writing and editing will do you and your story some good.
8. Start a New Project
Get started right away on something new to increase the distance between you and your previous work. This will help you to come back with a new perspective and keep your productivity level high in the process.
9. Return to Your Finished Product
After some time has passed, pull out your manuscript and read the piece with fresh eyes. Chances are you will find ways to improve upon and revise the story to make it flow more smoothly.
10. Revise and Edit
Cuts will have to be made. The revision process can be time consuming, but it will help when you’re ready to share your work with another reader for their opinion. Make sure you polish your work as much as possible before giving it to others for their opinions. Eliminating clutter and typos will help you get honest feedback without trivial details getting in the way.
If you have any fiction writing tips to share, feel free to post them in the comments.