Starting out in writing is exciting, and being an aspiring novelist is full of promise and ambition. However, as with all of life’s joys, the initial motivation can quickly turn to despair when you’re faced with a clean desk and a blank page. Writing fiction is complex, multi-layered, and ambitious. Yet, fret not, fellow writers! There are tips and tricks you can use in your writing to ease the journey from novice to published wordsmith, and squeeze out every drop of your inner creativity. This guide presents some easy practices to try out as you start on your literary adventures…
Open in a way that entices your reader
Your opening line and paragraph are what, for many, will justify them continuing to read your whole book. There’s a balance to be maintained here, between drawing readers in and sparking their interest, yet not giving everything away and overwhelming them. Your first few pages will likely be the most edited of your whole story, so don’t be afraid to go back and work and re-work them over and over again.
Don’t just write what you know
In fiction, it’s altogether unlikely that your reader will directly identify with every character, every situation, and every storyline that you pull together. Therefore, knowing a subject inside out may actually mean you’re in too deep – and instead, learning something new will allow you to explain and explore it better. Broadening your horizons and becoming educated on something new is required to develop not just yourself, but the stories you can tell, too.
Seek structure… at the end
While it’s easy to attack your manuscript with a well-thought-through plan for the structure and organisation, so much will change as your book progresses that it’s unlikely that it will stick to your schedule! Instead, work on your story’s structure once you’re nearing the end of the work so that you don’t feel you need to stuff it into a set pattern or method, and instead let it work in organically.
Keep on top of spelling, punctuation, grammar, and language rules and usage
Errors cause readers to stutter over a sentence, and possibly stop reading. Therefore, punctuation and spelling must be accurate to best represent the message you’re trying to convey, but grammar sometimes less so. If a sentence isn’t 100% grammatically accurate, but it really works, use it. Especially in dialogue. Like everything else, language evolves. It’s important that the language you use in your writing is relevant to the time period in which your book is set, relevant to those using it, and that it makes sense within the context it’s being used. Don’t be entirely confined by conventional language rules, but don’t abandon them, either. Even if your fiction is set in the present day or not too distant past, don’t get too hung up on technicalities – something you were taught during your education may already be out of date! Your work should be as readable as it is accurate. The most important thing is for your writing to be understood by the reader.