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Writing Fiction

Writing fiction. What does that mean? 

Fiction: literature in the form of prose, especially short stories and novels, that describes imaginary events and people. Prose: written or spoken language in its ordinary form, without metrical structure.

Now that the definitions are out of the way, let me get to writing fiction. So, you've always wanted to be a writer, but you don't know where to start. Simple! Just start with what you know. What does that mean? Well, everyone knows more about one subject than the person next to her/him, and vice versa. Let's use detective work for instance. You know everything there is to know about solving a crime, and it’s a field you love because you've either: read extensively about it, studied it in college, worked in the field, or are a connoisseur of sleuth knowhow. Whatever the case, you know and love this field. Also Learn How to write an outline.

So, you've decided on a crime novel or short story. Excellent! You can picture your story in your mind, but before you write, remember this one important fact: show, don't tell.

ExampleJoe Shmo arrived at the crime scene and saw the dead body. He took out his journal and made some notes. 

Okay, you learned Joe went to a crime scene and took some notes. Very boring. It gave me little information and no character emotion or depth. This is telling. Who is Joe? Why was he at the crime scene?

Example: With a twist of his size-fourteen shoe, Detective Joe Shmo extinguished his cigarette. His visible breaths rose in the frigid air as he slammed the car door like it had wronged him. Four uniformed officers jerked their heads in his direction.

"Got an ID of the vic yet?" Joe asked the first officer on the scene. "No sir. He wasn't carrying a wallet." 

"Hell of a night to be out killing people." Joe raised the collar of his thick wool coat, and straightened his tie as he glanced down at the blood soaked sheet covering the victim. His jaw tightened holding back a yawn as he jotted down the address in his dog-eared journal. 

The first officer nodded. Noticing the bags under Joe's red eyes, he added, "Bet you wish headquarters would've called someone else."

"You got that right. Nothing like murder in subzero weather," Joe acknowledged, lifting up the yellow tape and stepping under.

What about the last one? You learned: Joe is a detective with large feet, he's a smoker, he just arrived at the crime scene, and wishes he wasn't there.(he slams the door) We know it's a very cold night, and the sight of blood has become routine for Joe. (he holds back a yawn) Either he was awakened from sleep, or he had a long day and is sleepy. Also Joe has been at this job for a while (hence the dog-eared journal).

This was an example of showing. Learn more Writing tips.

The reader is confused with example one. In example two, the reader is engaged and thinking; picturing the scene as they read. Keep your reader engaged and you will win them over.

What's next you ask? Create a character, but not just any character. Create a three-dimensional character. Make him/her come alive on the page. Show us who he/she is. Such as: Joe is a lanky fellow standing nearly seven-feet tall, his brown wavy hair is neatly trimmed above his ears. Get the picture. You don't have to do this in a single paragraph, but it's a good idea to introduce your character in the first chapter.

Give your character goals. Choose an overall goal, but also, what will your character achieve in each scene or chapter? And not only your protagonist; don't forget about your antagonist. Bad guys have goals too. If your character isn't motivated to meet a goal, they aren't moving forward, and neither is the reader.

Write with powerful words. You want your words to jump off the page and by choosing the right words you will do just that. Using sub-standard words will only get you sub-standard work. Engage the reader and you'll have succeeded!

Click for a FREE Power Words List

Use professional help!

When you are done with your masterpiece, and you've polished it to the best of your ability, let a professional take a peek. Using professional beta readers, proofreader, copy-editors, book cover design etc..., can make all the difference in your work. You will be so close to your story that errant mistakes WILL be made, and though you've gone over it a hundred times, you can still miss them.

These are a few things to get you started. Getting your characters and concept fine-tuned will come in time and with plenty of revisions. You will know when it's right. Trust your judgment and let your hard work speak for itself. Happy writing!

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For writing tips, click the link. You'll find some of the best tips for aspiring authors. If you are thinking about writing a novel and don't know where to start, check out How to write an outline.

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