Many of you may have thought about writing a story at some point in your life. Maybe you haven’t thought about it yet but will in the future. Maybe you even went so far as to put some ideas to paper (or to a doc online) but eventually felt discouraged and didn’t know how to continue.
With a creative imagination and inspiration from reading many books, it’s really only a matter of time before an idea pops into your head. But can you turn it into a book? That might be a little bit more intimidating. Where do you start?
Am I a pro?
Admittedly, I am a beginner fiction author. I started seriously pursuing writing in October 2020 after realizing that I could not stop thinking about a potential story idea which is now my current wip.
Although I have not been writing for years or have a published book yet, I am so excited to share with you some of the tips I learned through my own research and the those that have helped me the most.
Whether it be a short story or a full-blown novel, here are 7 writing tips for beginner fiction authors:
- Plan to do a lot of learning
If you search up ‘how to write a book’ you’ll soon see that there is a lot to learn and it can be overwhelming. Start a Google Doc or a notebook (whatever you prefer) just for your new writing adventure and start taking notes! I learned so much from reading different websites, following informative Instagram accounts, and especially from YouTube.
It didn’t take long at all for me to have a general understanding of things like genres, drafting, point-of-views, etc. which all helped me refine my book idea before I even started my first draft.
Here are some resources I found useful:
- Alexa Donne: https://www.youtube.com/c/AlexaDonne/videos
- Melissa Hope: https://www.youtube.com/c/DanielMelissaHope/videos
- Vivien Reis: https://www.youtube.com/c/VivienReis/video
- MasterClass: https://www.masterclass.com/articles/how-to-start-writing-your-novel
- Reedsy: https://blog.reedsy.com/how-to-start-a-novel/
- Jericho Writers: https://jerichowriters.com/start-writing-a-novel/
- Read a lot of books
I’m a firm believer that in order to write well, you need to read. It’s so important that you know what readers enjoy and look for in books and you can only really know if you’re a reader yourself. As you read, you’ll naturally be able to hear what you want to write in your head and be able to put it down on paper.
- FIND OUT if you’re a pantser or a plotter
Basically, pantsers like to just wing it, start writing, and see where things go whereas plotters like to plot a general structure before starting to write. Figuring out which one you are will make a big difference in how you go about writing.
Here are some helpful websites to help you figure out which one you are and how to navigate each type:
- Make a general plan
No matter if you’re the type to plan everything meticulously or even if you’re the ‘winging it’ type, there are still some things that you need to plan. You’ll need to figure out your genre, setting, opening scene (where you want the reader to enter your story), main cast of characters, and what the conflict is in your story.
From here, pantsers will probably start writing, whereas plotters may want to plan a little bit more in detail such as rough chapter outlines/story arc.
- Just start
If you’ve already done numbers 1-4, you’re ready to start writing! You might still feel intimidated and that’s okay but no matter how much research and planning you do, your story will take you places you never expected to go.
I’m a plotter and before starting my novel, I planned out every single chapter (roughly) before starting to write but it didn’t take long for me to realize there were a million things I wanted to change while writing.
Through this experience, I learned that although I enjoy planning, realistically I can only have a general plan of the story and maybe a few chapters of rough notes before I write but I mainly just have to go with it. Figure out what works for you – everyone is different!
- Don’t compare yourself to others
I can tell you not to compare yourself to others but the reality is, comparing your work to others is inevitable but I think it’s okay as long as it’s healthy and doesn’t bring you down. It’s good to read work by other authors or your friends and compare styles and sometimes learn some things from the way they write as well but not if you’re comparing and putting yourself down.
Remember that everyone started off their writing career inexperienced but improved through hard work, practice, and time. Instead of focusing on why you aren’t like them, focus on honing your own craft of writing!
- Keep practicing
I often wish I could blink and write like a seasoned author that went to school for creative writing or English and wrote their entire lives. The reality is that a lot of us aren’t like this and even if you are, you still need practice. So trust the process and practice. I’ll be posting some writing practice resources on the blog soon but in the meantime, here are some things I found helped my writing that you may want to try practicing:
- ‘Showing’ what’s happening instead of ‘telling’
(Example: “He shivered, wrapping his arms around his knees.” vs. “He was cold.” The first one shows what happens while the second just tells.)
- Dialogue tags
- Describe a feeling using as little adjectives as possible
- Describe a location using the 5 senses
I hope these 7 tips are helpful and can help spur you to begin or continue your writing endeavours. Give these a go and let me know how it goes! If you’re an experienced author, what tips would you give to beginners? Let me know in the comments below.