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General Fiction Writing Advice

May 3rd, 2013 Books/Audio/Video

Some of the people who participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) each November might not have much experience when it comes to fiction writing. Out of all artistic mediums, fiction writing is one where writers have freedom to create their story the way they want to. Here are some general guidelines to keep readers hooked.

Pick a voice It takes most writers years to find their voice, but it's not a bad idea to start thinking about how you want your writing to sound in the reader's head. Here's a good idea for beginners - pick a handful of your favorite authors, and do your best to combine all of their writing styles into your work. Overtime, your own unique writer's voice will emerge.

Listen to advice, but don't take it too seriously In an interview with the Guardian, fantasy author Neil Gaiman advises new writers that when a reader tells them something's not working in a general sense, that reader might have a point. However, Gaiman also told the source that when the same reader tells the writer specifically how something could be improved, the reader is probably wrong. So getting feedback can be a two-edged sword. The important thing, Gaiman said, is to work toward improvement. Meanwhile, playwright David Hare told the news source to disregard any advice from readers who don't have a personal stake in the finished product.

Listen to how people talk Writing Forward instructs wordsmiths to write realistic dialogue. One good way to learn how to do that is to pay close attention to speech patterns. These don't have to take place between you and someone else. You could listen to people talking on the bus, in a park or another public place to help get a better handle on the nuances of everyday speech. Writing the way people talk can be a lot more difficult than it sounds, but developing this skill will help your characters jump off the page.