Eleven Quick Hints for Fiction Writers
Maybe there's much more to learning to write than eleven hints, but if you try to do the following you may be sure that you are producing the best work you are capable of.
1. Begin in the middle of things and catch us up as you go.
2. Don't write the boring or mundane details of life unless you have a dramatic reason to do so.
3. Don't dwell on the scenery or setting, except as it dramatically motivates or illuminates the characters.
4. Make the reader feel what the character feels. This means not only choosing specific words but also knowing how to show your reader what your character is feeling without telling those feelings.
5. "Pass the Potatoes" -- make sure that when you write dialogue you don't forget the other actions and reactions taking place while people are talking.
6. Actions have consequences, or ought to. Every action in your story should lead to a later action.
7. Foreshadowing can prepare a reader for even the most incredible events (from Chekhov--if the audience sees a gun on the wall in the first act someone will be firing it in the last act.)
8. Give characters a strong drive to accomplish something or to avoid something. Robert Olen Butler uses the word yearning; what does your character yearn for?
9. Write regularly, and give your writing time priority.
10. Finish your story or novel and put it away for two weeks. When you get it out, read it aloud to yourself. So often, the ear hears what the eye cannot see! Reading your work aloud to yourself is one of the best editing and revising techniques.
11. Don't be afraid to edit even your prettiest and most compelling writing if it doesn't fit the story.
-D. C. Cassidy, BA, MA, and National Writing Project Fellow