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Five Basic Tips for Fiction Writers


#1 Forming paragraphs: When writing essays or articles our paragraphs need to be neat and organized; however this is not so important when it comes to writing fiction. In fiction you shouldn’t need to pre-plan the layout of your paragraphs and know where every paragraph is going to begin and end. Paragraphs should flow naturally instead; you can always tidy them up later.

#2 Avoid passive tense: Using passive tense may seem like the safest option but its best to avoid as it can make your writing come across as timid and a sentence written in non-passive tense usually sounds a lot better. For example, ‘the shopping was carried home by Mark’ doesn’t sound as good as ‘Mark carried the shopping home’.

#3 Avoid adverbs: Usually the words that end in –ly such as softly, firmly, anxiously. The problem is that if you use too many of these then you’re probably not getting the point across to the reader well enough. We shouldn’t have to use an adverb to show the characters while completing an action because the reader should already know how the character is feeling. For example, ‘he playfully/angrily smacked him across the top of his head as he got up'. The reader should already know if the character is angry or not, therefore the adverb is not needed.

#4 Be confident in dialogue: Firstly dialogue is another place to avoid adverbs as much as you can. Adverbs can weaken your dialogue and as novels tend to have increased amount of dialogue in modern fiction it needs to be strong to meet today’s reader’s expectations. The best form of dialogue attribution is the word said. Keep it simple and make it real.

#5 Get straight to the action: In terms of getting published, getting your reader’s interest in the first page of your novel is most important. The first page alone needs to capture the reader’s interest enough to make them keen to know more.

Written by Zoe Boundy

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