Want to get started writing fiction? In a recent writers’ group, we focused on fiction for beginners: characters, plotting, and more.
Should you focus on characters, or your plot?
Or… Just start writing, to see what develops?
Writing fiction: to get started, write
Several new members have joined our group in the past year. They’re eager to get started with fiction, the “right” way. Not only are they eager for writing tips, they want to know about the complexities of publishing.
We decided that the most important tip is just to write stories. As a new author, you don’t know which stories you have to tell: you need to write them.
1. Fiction is stories: they have a plot, and meaning
Much as I love pantsing short stories and novels, there are challenges if you’re new to writing fiction. You can end up with a story which isn’t a story at all. Or, you can end up with a mishmash: trying to cram three or five stories into one.
Neither is satisfying.
The biggest clue that you don’t have a story is that you can’t create a blurb (description).
FWIW, here’s a definition of STORY:
an account of imaginary or real people and events told for entertainment.
However, a story needs a plot: it has to mean something. Stringing meaningless events together irritates readers.
Here’s an example of a “story” which isn’t a story. It has no plot and no decipherable meaning. An author sets out to write a mystery novel. He has a sleuth, and a dead body. The sleuth gets sidetracked into another crime. And another. His teenage daughter’s romantic challenges take up five chapters, and then…
By this time, the readers that get that far (still hoping against hope that there’s a plot, coming real soon now) give up.
Not sure about your plot?
In your novel, or short story, something happens to a character. He has a problem, preferably one of life or death. The story’s plot is your character resolving the problem. Once the problem’s resolved (boy gets girl, sleuth gets criminal, spy saves the world) your story is OVER.
Follow your emotions.
2. Follow your emotions: what scares you?
Have you ever had a nightmare? You wake up, but feel as if you’re still in the dream… It takes a while for you to reassure yourself that you’re OK.
Powerful dreams have one thing in common with fiction: emotion. Primarily, readers want to connect. They read for emotion.
Strive to write emotionally-driven stories.
However, if you’re beginning writing fiction, just write, in the first instance. Think of it as sketching… You’re sketching the shape of something which will develop into a story, over time.
A Regency time travel romance... What if you could escape across time, and find your soulmate?
Pure evil dispatches gorgeous Tara Ballantine across the centuries, to Regency England. Tara lands on Adam Jervoise, Earl of Hillingworth -- literally -- as he's riding through a bluebell wood.
Hillingworth is handsome, rich, and kind. He's also set to propose to an heiress.
When Tara realizes that she's falling in love with the earl, she fights the feeling.More info →
At 24, not only is Molly Ballantine stunning, she has two sisters she loves, and a wonderful career. Then her eldest sister Tara vanishes, and her life disintegrates.
Molly's life is about to become even more chaotic. She wakes up in a brothel with a man who's too good-looking for her peace of mind.More info →
22-year-old Priscilla Ballantine wakes up 200 years in the past, naked in the arms of handsome aristocrat, and master spy, Dominick de Roche, Lord Bellemieux. Priscilla's accused of spying, and is in danger of summary execution. She can't help thinking that she wouldn't be in such a mess if Dominick de Roche hadn't mistaken her for one of his contacts...More info →
Love time travel romances and the Regency era?More info →