You’re writing fiction and you’re bored. You wonder whether you should trash the novel and write something else.
Before you do that, consider this: to entertain readers, you must entertain yourself first.
Start by daydreaming.
Writing fiction: forget the words, daydream
To write great stories, you need to get on familiar terms with your own emotions, the emotions of those around you, and of course — your characters’ emotions.
Do that, and your writing will win readers because they empathize and identify with your characters.
Let’s look at some ways you can trigger your imagination, so that you inspire your readers and sell.
1. Make character creation easy: use an emotional adjective plus a noun to create your characters
Your readers’ emotional connection to your characters starts with you. Create characters by choosing an emotional adjective, plus a noun.
- A jealous fashion designer;
- A disgruntled detective;
- A secretive CEO.
Creating a “jealous” fashion designer gives you more options when you’re planning a new character. You’ve instantly got somewhere to go with the character.
- Jealous of what, or whom?
- How does she reveal her jealousy — what does she think? Do?
- What goals does she have?
By the way… get into the habit of writing in scenes. Scenes happen in real time; readers experience the scene with your characters. As a result, they identify with your characters.
2. Give your characters something to fight for: when your characters care, so do readers
When you outline your scenes, focus on the emotional content. A scene “outline” can be a single sentence, it doesn’t need to be extensive. Not only does the emotional content of your scene draw in readers, it also makes the scene easier to write.
Vital: remember that when your characters aren’t fighting for something in a scene, readers are leaving. Every scene needs an emotional punch.
3. Know the ending: this applies to your entire short story or novel, as well as each scene
By nature I’m a pantser. Each and every time I’ve forced myself to outline a novel before I started writing, the writing process was grueling. My subconscious mind seems to feel that once an outline is written the book is done.
That said, it’s essential that you know your ending before you start writing. Of course, you can change it if you like. But if you start writing without knowing the ending it’s like setting off on a journey without a destination.
So, in our jealous fashion designer story (let’s call the designer Lola), Lola’s designs have been ripped off by a large company. At the end of the novel, after Lola causes the company endless hassles, the company hires her.
As well as knowing the ending of your novel, you need to know the outcome of each scene. So in our Lola story, you could write a scene in which Lola meets the lawyers of the company which is ripping her off. Before writing the scene, you know that the scene ends with Lola being totally outraged, and determined to get revenge.
4. Every scene has consequences: keep your characters in pain (leaven it with humor)
The old saying that when your characters are having fun, readers aren’t, is true. Make life difficult for your characters in every scene. Not every scene needs to be filled with loud conflict or angst of course. However, even in a scene where all is well, make sure that something is off.
For example, in our Lola story, Lola’s just had a huge success. She’s signed a contract with a popular online store, which will stock her garments. At the office celebration, she receives a bunch of roses… and a dog bowl. She doesn’t own a dog.
Ready to write fiction? Go ahead and daydream… 🙂
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Copywriter and marketing pro Angela Booth maintains a busy copywriting and ghostwriting practice. Fascinated by online marketing, she wrote one of the first business books for internet marketing, published by Allen & Unwin. She’s been an enthusiastic blogger since the late 1990s.