Sorry that this writing help post is late. I typically write my entries early and schedule them to publish. This morning I was laying in bed and wondered what today’s post was. I checked my phone and WOW nothing! When I got up I figured I would quickly hit the “publish” button before I went for a jog. To my surprise there was nothing written for today. How could I be so lax? Anyway, I did have a heading saved so at least I know what I was meaning to write.
So here we are, things I think are good to avoid and good to do. This is not a complete list, and I am not really an expert, these are just things that I’ve seen, and things I try to avoid. As you learn more, your list will grow, as does mine.
THINGS TO AVOID
Info dumps: This is long segments of text that overload us with a ton of information at once. I fell victim to this in The Mirror of the Moon I think. Grace sets them down and tells them everything they have been wanting to know, and it’s a long section of story. I think I pulled it off well because I mixed flashbacks in with story time.
Flashbacks: Now, this is something of a double edged blade. I feel flashbacks are fine, as long as they are handled properly. You don’t want a flashback to happen in the middle of forward momentum. This means if the story is tense, and a lot is happening, you don’t want to take this moment and explain how we got to this point. If you need to add in things like that, hint around at depth maybe in how the characters interact so that we know there’s something there.
Dialogue to move the story: Characters should be people right? They should act like people, they should talk like people, they should have quirks that make them real. I think some of us have a better gift at making characters more realistic, but I also think if you work hard enough, you can make it happen. One thing you don’t want to do is have generic conversation. You don’t want your people talking (even a filler character) just to move the story along. The story should flow from one event to another without dialogue pushing the plot.
No coincidences: Coincidences are fine, in certain circumstances, but something I see more than anything is magic being used as a way to solve the conflict. I don’t normally like to rag on other authors, but when I read the last book of The Sword of Truth, I was so disappointed. Here was a series that I loved, and the last book wrapped up so much and most of it seemed to me to be coincidence. Check your world, check your magic systems, check everything. If you put your characters in a place where they might not make it out, don’t use coincidence to save them. It’s great to think that a magician can suddenly have a flare of power, but don’t make it happen just to save them. If you know you are going to have to do something like that, where your character will have to have magic save them, maybe you should add in other story segments where magic acts wonky before. But remember, be critical of your writing. If you think the scene is too phoney, it just might be. Have someone else read it and have them tell you what they think. But please have someone other than family or friends read it to help you out.
THINGS TO DO
Create rich worlds and characters: Like I stated above, you should have a great grasp of your world you are writing in, and who your characters are. If you have no idea who your characters are, I suggest building them a little like you would a world. Get in touch with your world and your characters and it will make your story so much better.
Build believable Baddies: To me, nothing is worse than a villain who is bad just because you need a bad guy. They are a place holder, like maybe there is an evil possessing them that has a reason to be evil. It’s fine to have a villain who is a puppet for the real baddie, but even then, they should seem conflicted, like a real person. Make them a Pinocchio puppet, not a sock puppet! Give your villains the same amount of attention your MC (main character) has, that way they are part of the story. I really love a villain I can side with, or at least see their reason for being bad. Maybe they are just really insane, but don’t make them superficial insane, still build them so they seem like a real person. Even the most evil of evils has to have moments where they seem like a real person.
Forward Momentum: You want to build your story so that there isn’t many dull points. If there are points where the story falters, or it gets boring, your reader will think that’s a good point to put down the book, and you don’t want that. Of course, this varies for adult and young adult. Build good forward momentum, and your reader will love it. You want your book to be the one that kept them up all night reading, because that will make you an awesome writer. If you have good forward momentum, don’t break it with flashbacks and such. Such a break in momentum will get the readers mind away from the speed-of-light story they are reading and will give them a point where they can put your book down.
Alright, this is a very short list, but it’s a start. I hope it leads you in the right direction and helps you make fabulous stories. I would like to suggest a book for you to read. Of course, this book is young adult fiction help, but I think it can apply to either adult or young adult. The book is called Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies. It’s the only book I’ve read on writing, and it is fantastic. So go, create, have fun! If you have any questions, feel free to post them in the comments below and I will help as much as I can!
Did you know I’m an author? No way right? You can check out my awesome works of weird fiction here!