10 Rules Of Fiction You Must Obey

By on September 1, 2016
10 Rules Of Fiction You Must Obey - Writer's Life.org

So you want to make it as a fiction writer huh? Well here are ten rules which cover what to avoid, what to include and what to do to give your work of fiction the very best chance of success.

1 It was a dark and stormy night

Rule number one of fiction writing is never, ever start with the weather. Books should start with action, interest and promise. Even if you want to build up a particular atmosphere before introducing a character, try to think of how to do this more creatively.

Of course, there are exceptions. If the weather contributes to the action, i.e., the characters are in a blizzard or the middle of a tornado then it’s OK. However, it is important to use your weather descriptions wisely - so many of them have been done to death, it can put a reader off before you had even begun.

2 He said she said

Be careful when using dialogue tags. Usually ‘he said’ or ‘she said’ is enough. Try reading a conversation between two characters where every speech ends with ‘he said arrestingly’, ‘she said remorsefully’. It gets pretty tiring, pretty quickly, don't you think?

3 This one is really important !!!!!!!

Keep exclamation points under control! Use them sparingly! No one is this excited/ astonished/ amazed all the time!!!

4 Know your demons

If you read a page of your book and realise you have used the word ‘suddenly’ an awful lot. You have probably done it throughout. Look out for these common phrases or words that you overuse - you can easily do a find & replace on your manuscript to weed them out.

5 Why not gie dis accent a try?

Writing in regional dialects can be very effective. But only if you are really, really good at it. Sometimes used sparingly the result can be wonderful. But there is also a strong possibility you are writing nonsense that your readers simply won’t be able to understand

6 This gorgeous, wonderful, ingenious and life changing tip is the best kept most mysterious and fantastically useful of all the writing advice in all of the world.

Overwriting can be very painful to read. Keep your writing clear, precise and simple then throw in beautiful descriptions and clever metaphors which will then really stand out.

7 He had a long nose, with wide nostrils, and it was crooked, and bent, and there was a spot on the side, and a sheen running the length of it, and a wiry hair poking out.

Descriptions are great but use them sparingly. If you describe everything, and everyone in too much detail you story will never move forward.

8 I believe in you!

Trust your reader. Readers don’t need to be told everything that is happening. Be brave with your writing and trust that they will understand you.

Think about when someone tells you a story, do they tell it step by step, never missing out a single detail, or do they tell it with gusto, embellish it, break off to laugh, gesture with their hands, nod their heads and look you in the eye?

Tell stories with your writing in the same way, and trust that your reader will keep up.

9 Say it loud, say it proud

Reading your work out loud is one of the most helpful things you can do. Sometimes our eyes just cannot process words in the same way. They don’t see mistakes, and they read without taking everything in.

Reading your work out loud will help to see if it really works.

10 Go easy on yourself

Your book is never going to seem as good as other books you’ve read. That’s because you wrote it. You just can’t expect to feel the same way about your work as you do about others.

You know your book, you've probably read it a hundred times before you finished it. When I finished my novel I honestly felt like it didn’t even seem like a proper story anymore!

You are not a good judge of your own work, so don’t be.

Obeying these 10 fiction tips won’t necessarily make you a bestselling writer, but they are certainly worth considering next time you sit down to write!

What are your golden rules of fiction writing? Let us know!

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

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