Fiction writing tips: So you want to write a novel

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Fiction writing tips

This post is also available in: French Chinese (Simplified)

Right away you might be wondering what the heck this article can even be about. I mean, isn’t fiction writing supposed to be a creative pursuit? So, how can there even be tips to write better? Well, there certainly needs to be creativity. But there are ways to draw the reader in and also to make the writing process easier for you. If you want to write a novel, one or more of these fiction writing tips can be helpful.

About the characters

There are primary and secondary characters, obviously. You can tell the story from one or more viewpoints, but it’s easiest to decide whose viewpoint(s) before you write a single word or start mind mapping.

The viewpoint refers to the person whose feelings, senses, and thoughts the scene is being told from, and it’s best to keep the viewpoint to only person per scene. Why? You don’t want to confuse readers who could find it hard to follow exactly what is happening.

Also, try not to have more than two viewpoints in a novel. Having numerous perspectives can be, well, tiring for your audience. Plus, when you write a novel, focus on doing a deep dive into those characters whose perspectives you pen, and it’s tough to do that when you have to put yourself in the minds of five characters.

Another tip about characters is to think about their motivation. What do they want most from their relationships, school, career, or another aspect of life? Once you identify their motivations then you can imagine how they will react when put into different situations. That makes their reactions and movements in scenes realistic to readers because it fits their personality.

All of this has assumed that you’re going to write from the first person perspective (I/We). But you might instead choose the second perspective or write in the third person. Choose which one makes the most sense to you. What will help to tell the story the best to get the most out of your writing?

That’s a serious question to ask yourself. Make sure you keep the viewpoint throughout when you set out to write a novel. Follow the same principle when writing narrative essays too. What are narrative essays? It hinges on telling an experience from a particular point of view.

More fiction writing tips: Evoking emotion in readers

To write a novel that readers cannot put down and voraciously read late into the night involves evoking emotion in them. And that starts with feeling emotion yourself as you’re writing it.

If you’re not stirred by your writing, then why would you expect your readers to be? Just because you show a character crying or expressing another feeling does not mean that the someone will be moved by what they read.

This topic isn’t an easy one to discuss because, um, it’s kind of manipulative. You’re showing readers the way a particular character feels to get them to feel emotional. But triggering emotions in another person is a powerful thing and not something to take lightly. Don’t play with others’ emotions, under any circumstances!

Also, while you might hope that readers will cry along with your main character when they weep on a doorstep, you might actually trigger a very different emotion in your reader. Perhaps the female reminds them of someone they once cared for deeply who betrayed them later in life. Well, then they might feel something very different than sadness, such as a sense of satisfaction that the character feels sad the way that they had when they were betrayed in real life.

In other words, even if you cry while penning the woman sobbing on the doorstep, there’s no guarantee that the reader will also do so. As if that’s not a complicated discussion on its own, there’s also the fact that you can be moved by something you read and not outwardly express emotion. I’m on an antidepressent and feel numb sometimes, so that could be part of it for the reader, or they might simply not be a very emotional person by nature.

When you want to write a novel, be ready to revise it

This point is probably one you already knew but I want to include it here because it’s important. The first draft is one thing, but the published novel is quite another thing.

Fiction writing involves edits, more edits, more… You get the point.

There are different methods here. Some authors write the first draft of the book and then go back and edit it. Others write a scene, then edit, then write next scene, and edit that scene afterward. When you start the process, you’ll find what works for you. Or, you will try one, it won’t be comfortable, and then you’ll try a different approach.

Here’s another consideration. When you’re editing your own book, you might get so deep inside it that you cannot tell anymore what sounds good or where there are grammatical errors. That’s when it’s helpful to put away the manuscript for a few weeks (or longer, if you can). When you look at it after a break, you’re likely to notice errors you didn’t see before as you’ve had a break from it. You might also notice great elements about your writing or be pleasantly surprised by the direction of storytelling.

You might also want to give a copy of the manuscript to a professional editor, fellow writer, family member, or friend. Their first read of the fiction will provide you with an idea of what to expect from readers when it’s published. Get a full critique, from feelings of the “test” reader throughout the pages to any parts that they found confusing.

That’s one type of edit. Another type is for grammar, spelling, awkward passages, paragraphs that don’t flow, unnatural conversations… The technical stuff.

Fiction writing tips: What else?

There’s a lot more to think about when you want to write a novel. Add points below please! Let’s make this one heck of a guide. Thank you in advance for anyone who adds suggestions. 

This post is also available in: French Chinese (Simplified)

14 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for all these lovely fiction writing tips, so far I have only written ebooks but who knows, I might publish a novel one day. By the way, I really like the location of your Google Adsense ads. I actually clicked on it and I never click on ads. What surprised me is that the links advertised are actually about how to right a book, indicating that your pages are very well optimized. I hope you don’t mind me asking but do you spend a lot of time on SEO and are you making decent money with adsense? Just curious how well Google ads pay in the writing niche, I hope you don’t mind. Anyway, thanks for sharing ;)

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