How to Write Fiction Stories: Creative Writing Lesson Tips

Writing has been handed down from father to son, mother to daughter or the village elder to the junior by word of mouth long before there was ever any writing of any kind, so that essential element in writing has never gone away. In fact, I would say that the prime prerequisite is: can you tell a good story?

The first thing you have to have to be a writer is to have a story or an idea or something that you want to communicate. Ask the question would someone be interested in this or would someone want to read about this? Writing is just a form of communication.
Are you a storyteller or do you have something to write about?

Here are some little tests to find out whether or not you are.

Are you the kind of person that when you go to the camp out you can tell the story by the fire and have everyone’s attention, have them hanging on your every word?

How’s your timing?

What do people say to you after you finish telling a story?

Do people laugh at your jokes?

Your listeners and then readers will tell you whether or not you can tell a good story.

Now we all want to take a look at ourselves and not be too critical and not be too harsh at the same time, be open and honest with ourselves. Share your story with a friend who will be honest with you.

Sit down and write. Then, read what you wrote so you can get your flow with words. Be interested in everything around you, be interested in what other people have to say. Take what they say and learn what they got from your writing. Did your story idea interest them, did they have any aha moments from what you wrote? Use that information to fine tune what you are writing. Begin to develop your voice and your style as a writer.

25 Mistakes that Peg You as an Amateur Writer

Their are 25 common mistakes that will peg you as an amateur writer:

  • Number one is spelling changes If you spell a name a certain way, make sure it is always spelled that way. Also  with locations and abilities. Be consistent with the capitalization, too.
  • Number two is characters that are similar. Do not have multiple characters with very similar names, similar personality attributes, or that are on same side, either the good side or the bad side in your story.
  • Number three is mistakes in procedures with different professions like Social Work, the Police, the Court System, or Forensic Scientists to name a few. You need to understand how those professions work if you are going to write about them.
  • Number four is mistakes in descriptions of medical problems, medical care, technology, or weapons. Research to make sure you understand what you are describing.
  • Number five is small talk in the dialogue that takes up a lot of space but does not mean anything, or have any relevance.
  • Number six is forgetting to include sensory information like sight, sound, and smell.
  • Number seven is naming the main character after yourself or a slight variation of your name. This will be very apparent when you go to query agents or publishers and it is a big red flag.
  • Number eight is cliches used too frequently. You do not want to rely on cliche phrases.
  • Number nine is using the same sentence construction over and over.
  • Number ten is switching between past and present tense unintentionally. Make sure you know which tense you are writing in.
  • Number eleven is pausing the story every time a character is introduced to provide a laundry list of physical descriptions. One or two descriptions is fine, but the big long paragraph of descriptions is not going to read smoothly.
  • Number twelve is over use of alternative dialog tags. Use these very sparingly.
  • Number thirteen is using more than one or two adjectives to describe a noun.
  • Number fourteen is using more words than is necessary. EX: he lifted his chin slowly and then dropped it back to his chest instead of he nodded.
  • Number fifteen is thesaurus writing. Replacing words constantly with bigger or fancier words to sound more impressive or sophisticated.
  • Number sixteen is constantly repeating the character’s name.
  • Number seventeen is repeating character’s name in dialogue. You do not normally call people by their names in dialogue very often so it can seem unnatural.
  • Number eighteen is repeating the same description over and over.
  • Number nineteen is switching the point of view of your character at random. The point of view of the character should switch because it advances the story. You want to switch smoothly so your reader does not get confused with your story.
  • Number twenty is including mundane details for no reason. The reader does not need to watch your character brush their teeth, get out of the shower or pick their clothes. These descriptions are very rarely interesting.
  • Number twenty one is describing every article of clothing every character is wearing at all times.
  • Number twenty two is using an adverb plus a verb instead of just using a stronger verb. EX: saying he moved quickly instead of he jogged.
  • Number twenty three is overly formal dialogue.
  • Number twenty four is introducing too many characters at the same  time.
  • Number twenty five is writing stage direction instead of action. Nobody needs excessive descriptions.

How to Tell If Your Novel Idea is Good

How to know if your novel idea is a good idea. Writers will fairly often ask is this a good idea for a novel or of all of these ideas, which idea should I focus on. Understanding the idea behind your novel is rarely the determining factor and whether it’s successful or marketable. To know if a book is worth pursuing or how to know if a novel is marketable, consider these things: plot versus the idea behind the story. Many ideas are not that distinct and they are not that original.

Also consider if you have created compelling characters. A group of unique characters with a very distinct or unusual approach to a project with some sort of wow factor to elevate the story will help you write and develop the flow of the story. Make what is happening in the story more exciting.

If you want your novel idea to be strong, you want your novel to be marketable. You need to make sure that you are excited about the plot and not just the idea. An easy and a good question to ask yourself is which plot points am I excited about? Is there a surprising conflict that just comes out of nowhere or a really dramatic showdown between two characters. If you have specific plot events that you are excited about, that is a good sign that your plot is working.

If you think about the plot and there is nothing that you are particularly excited about, there is no plot point that you are proud of, or you feel like the plot is sort of interchangeable or that you don’t feel that strongly about it, then you know  that is a good sign the idea, the premise, and the plot combined are not working very well. You don’t have a complete picture. It is not about the idea being bad it is at that point  it is about the execution of the idea. Focus on the craft of writing, focus on understanding plot and scene structure. If the melding of the idea has a good plot with strong characters with good world building when you are writing fiction is what makes the book work. Don’t neglect the plot because the premise alone will not sell your book.

Note: world building for your story, whether your story is set in a real place or an imagined one, you need to establish your characters’ world so that the reader can suspend disbelief and fully engage with the story.

Reasons Readers Don’t Care About Your Characters

Common reasons readers don’t care about your characters and what you can do about it.

Writers often think characters need to be likable, that they need to be nice people or good people. That is not necessarily the case. Readers care about a lot of characters that aren’t necessarily nice people or likable people, so you don’t have to worry about making your character nicer. Make readers more interested and more invested in what happens to your characters because that is what gets readers to keep reading.

You are never going to please everybody with your characters, and that is okay. If, however, you’re getting the same feedback over and over especially if you’re at the querying stage and agents or publishers are telling you they don’t care about your characters, they can’t relate to your characters or they can’t connect to your characters, it could be that you’re not really conveying your characters personalities. Know your characters personality so well that just everything about the character is clear.

One thing that can help a lot is distance from your story.

Another trick that can help is to have somebody else read your first chapter and ask them what they think about the personality of this character, and what are their personality traits. As a little secondary tip, make sure that you’re not showing personality traits that are not indicative of who your character is because you can confuse the reader.

Another reason readers might not connect to your characters is that you’re showing their most negative traits but you’re not explaining why they have those traits. You do want to give some kind of indication of why a character might be acting in a particular way. A hint of why they have the negative trait can help the reader to relate to them and not to see them as negative. It can make them more interesting to read about because then you want to learn more details and more depth about why this character has come to be this way reason.

Another reason that readers might not connect to your characters is that you’re not indicating what the character wants. It is really hard to connect with a character who seems content and happy with life and is there just sailing through. The reader really doesn’t have much incentive to care about them because they seem like they’re doing just fine. Make sure that you’re showing what your character wants or what they want to be different about their life because that’s what will get the reader interested.

Another reason that readers might not connect your character is you’re not introducing a problem. If your character wants something, there needs to be something that stands in their way. A conflict occurs when the character wants something and then something stands in the way of what they want. Make sure that those obstacles are there because readers will want to see how your character overcomes them.

Another reason readers might not connect your character is that your character is a stereotype. For readers to connect or find those characters interesting, the key is just to combine in unexpected or different ways and to not put typical characters into typical scenarios.

Another reason that readers might not connect with your characters, if you’re not putting the reader in the characters shoes. This can be a very easy thing to overlook, but sensory information is really important. Readers want to feel like they are right there next to the character and that can be very difficult to experience if the characters senses are described in a very bland or distant way or if they’re not described at all. The five sense descriptions of your characters help the reader to feel connected and as if they’re there in the character’s body and they can kind of experience things as the character experiences it.