Fiction Essentials

YOU DON’T HAVE TO KNOW THE WHOLE STORY BEFORE YOU BEGIN: All you really need to start a novel is one scene. Let’s say what you have is a short dialogue between two characters; begin by recording what they say. Next, you can start asking questions: Where did they have the conversation? Was it a relaxed conversation, or were they under pressure? What was the outcome? Once you start adding locations and other characters, it won’t be long before you start to see the story’s full potential.

READ WIDELY: One of the drawbacks of always reading and watching movies in your favourite genre, is that what you write may start sounding like a group of clichés linked together to form a predictable plot. The greater variety of books you read, the more insights you’ll be able to introduce in your stories. Reading a book about business may seem useless if you’re writing science fiction, but if you’re writing a scene in a space station, there will be alien businesses!

DON’T WAIT UNTIL YOUR FIRST CHAPTER IS PERFECT BEFORE CONTINUING, BECAUSE IT NEVER WILL BE:  One of the most dangerous pitfalls in writing, is continually rewriting a story, and never finishing it. Often perfectionism is a form of procrastination; you don’t have to face rejection or criticism, if you never submit your work to an editor. You could have a written literary masterpiece, but you’ll never know unless others have the opportunity to read it.

LEARN FROM THE MASTERS: What an amazing opportunity awaits you at! You can watch successful authors being interviewed, and talking at writing events around the world. You’ll discover what inspires their writing,  learn about the writing process, and by listening to the questions,  help you prepare for your future interviews.

TAKE EVERY OPPORTUNITY TO READ IN PUBLIC: Watch for announcements about  Open Mic events at libraries and bookstores. If you belong to a writer’s organization there may also be opportunities to read your material out loud. If you’re serious about building a writing career, public reading is an essential skill; the sooner you begin practicing, the sooner you’ll become comfortable with the process.

KEEP WRITING: If you’re working on a novel and you’ve seemed to hit a wall, don’t stop writing, just switch to another project temporarily.  Take some time to write a short story, an essay, an article or a poem, and let your subconscious work out a solution for the challenge you’re facing in the novel.  After you’ve had a break, get back in the saddle and finish that novel! The world is waiting to hear your voice and feel your passion.

Copyright © 2018 by J. Paul Cooper