If you’ve never written fiction before, it’s easy to make the mistake of having two characters standing in white space just talking to each other. But you know real life isn’t like that.
How many times have you stood motionless, hands by your sides, in conversation with somebody else? Even if you said once, that’s still an exaggeration. None of us do. If our bodies aren’t constantly shifting position, or we aren’t playing around with props beside us, there’s always some kind of action going on.
Take for example an awkward scene between two characters in a coffee shop. Putting aside the subject of the awkwardness, you’ll know how it’ll look as a bystander. There’ll be the constant scratching of the head, tapping of foot, and eyes looking everywhere except at the person that’s speaking to them.
And then there’s also the use of props. You’ll see a character playing around with the contents of their coffee cup, or the cup itself. Or possibly picking up a sugar sachet and playing around with it, keeping their hands busy as a distraction. Or any number of things.
One of the best tips I’ve heard of how to get over this, is to watch TV or movies with the volume turned down. In this way you can’t rely on what’s been said, but have to go on the body language instead. Once you do this you’ll notice how the actors change body posture, play around with props beside them, and walk around the room to convey the message they’re trying to give to the other character and you the audience.
Your homework for today is to watch TV for the next few days in this way, or watch people interact from afar. What can you tell about the discussion without hearing what’s being said? Once you’ve seen it in real life, go back to the piece you’re currently writing and rewrite it. The more realistic you can make the scene, the more your readers are going to get lost in the piece.
Having said that, don’t go to the other extreme of thinking that you have to include every little tiny body movement, Give too much description and you’re going to bore your readers to death. Which is probably worse than white space writing.
Fictional Characters – Common Fictional Character Mistakes
Although some people are naturally gifted writing fiction, us normies can improve our fiction writing with a little bit of work. If you’re keen to give it a go and picture yourself as a promising fiction writer, you probably want to get started with the least amount of mistakes made. In today’s blog post, we’re going to have a look at the mistakes made when working with fictional characters in fiction writing.
Mistake 1 – It’s Characters And Not Story Line That Matters – In the beginning when I was starting off I assumed the first place to begin writing a book fiction book was working on my story line first. Once I had the story line in place it was only a matter of just slotting my characters in and then writing my story. I found out to my frustration that it’s actually the other way around.
When we read fiction we want to get into the lives of the characters in the book and watch how they react to the situation that they’re in. We want to see that character overcome their weakness, their phobias, or handicaps and triumph over them by the end of the book.
Because of that you’re going to need to create a character that has a weakness, that has something they need to overcome. That journey is the backbone of the story line of your book. Once you know what that is, you’ve got to put them in situations where they have to face those problems, again and again through your piece. Like a rough diamond before it’s cut, it’s this chipping away that keeps us reading to see the finished diamond at the end.
Mistake 2 – Know Your Characters – A good story with weak characters will only get you so far, whereas a weak story with strong characters will be long remembered after the book is closed. Think about any TV show or movie that you liked, and I know you liked it because of the characters in it. Take for example, the characters in the original Star Wars movie, those characters were so strong that they’ve now gone on to have their own spin-off movies.
If you want to write good fiction, you need to write good characters. This means creating a character that is so believable that they jump off the page. That means looking into every detail of your character, their size, weight, handicaps, upbringing, and their beliefs. Each of which, like you, make them the person that they are. And because you know exactly who they are, what they believe, and what they will do in any situation. Which makes it easier to write your book.
But once you know that character, don’t force them to do something they wouldn’t. You’ve probably seen evidence of this yourself in a poorly written movie. When suddenly a character that we assume to know well, suddenly does something ‘out of character.’
For example in the Matrix trilogy movies, the main character Neo is hell bent on destroying the hold the machines have over humanity. And yet at the end of the third movie, he honors a truce between man and machine. So all of a sudden, everything he believed up to this point was tossed aside so the writer could bring the movie to a close. Not only was this poor writing, but to me, the whole series was ruined because of it. Don’t do it. If your character hates the color purple, don’t have him proudly wearing a purple t-shirt unless there’s a good reason for it.
Mistake 3 – Give The Same Attention To Your Anti Hero – I read somewhere that to make your character a great character they need to go up against a great enemy. And it’s true. Take for example, the farm boy in Star Wars who had to stand up and face Darth Vader. Would we have followed as closely along with Luke’s story if he had the beating of Darth Vader already in him? No. It was because he didn’t stand a chance, and his enemy was so powerful, that kept us glued to that movie. We watched with bated breath to see how he ‘who came from nothing’ could stand up to this great Jedi master.
And so it will be with your fiction writing. To make your character great, you’re going to need to put them up against a character that’s much stronger and more powerful than they are. By doing so, we’re going to see them to dip into the reserve of who they are as they have to work to overcome their foe. Give as much attention to your anti hero as your hero, the more work you put in here, the better your main character will be, and the better your story will be.
Finally, while there are many mistakes when fiction writing, working on these three help put your work on a strong foundation. Once you’ve got that, you’re well on the way to creating a great book. If you’d like to know more about creating characters, I recommend you pick up my course over at http://fictionalcharacterbuilding.com/
In today’s blog post we’re going to have a look at how to start fiction writing. I could write a long-winded post on how to begin writing, what books to buy, and other aspects like plot building, story creation, and character creation. I’m not going to do that today. What I’m going to do is show you baby steps you can take to see if fiction writing is right for you. The last thing I want is to see you invest money and time into something that maybe you haven’t got a love for. So if you’d like to give it a go, the first thing is to take action and…
Start Small – Like learning to drive a car, or ride a bicycle, you’re never going to know how to do it unless you actually behind the wheel or on the saddle and begin. And so it is it fiction writing. If you’ve never written a piece of fiction before it’s better off to start small.
Try writing out a small scene between two characters having a discussion over a cup of coffee. If you’re having problems with this, close your eyes for a moment and imagine two of your favorite TV characters sitting across from each other and having a discussion. Because you probably know these characters well you shouldn’t have any difficulty imagining what they would say to each other. This piece doesn’t have to be very long, but it’ll will give you an idea of what it’s like to picture a scene in your mind and then convey it to a reader to read.
Now that you have an idea of what it’s like to write a scene, try and put a few of those together to create a small short story. The short story should be in a genre that you enjoy reading. If you love reading romance then write a small romance piece, if you’re more of a horror or thriller reader, then go to go down that route instead. Even if think your writing sucks, you’ll enjoy the process of writing more.
Your short story doesn’t have to be very long, maybe two or three pages in length, but it’ll give you an idea of what it’s like to create a longer piece of fiction. Again this piece doesn’t have to a start or finish point. They could begin with the first romantic encounter between a couple and what takes place after that moment. Or it could be the cop in mid chase, running after a suspect that’s fleeing a bank job. Whatever you pick, it doesn’t have to have a start point or a finish point, It can leave the reader hanging in midair, but it’ll give you an idea of what it’s like to put a couple of scenes together.
Be Prepared To Suck – If you haven’t written anything since high school be prepared for your writing to suck. If you think you’re going to write the next Harry Potter on your very first draft you’re sadly mistaken. The best advice I can give you is when you’re writing, write like no one is ever going to read it. In this way you won’t edit yourself on what you’re going to put down in the page, but you’ll write from your heart. Because of that your fiction writing will be better and that emotion will come of the page because of it.
In these early stages it’s best not to share your work with anybody. Like a flower that’s barely breaking through the ground, you and your work for going through a growth process. The last thing you want is a snide comment from a friend or relative, that’s going to stomp on that work and crush your dream of becoming a writer. Because of that it’s best to keep your early writing to yourself. Once you’ve got better and feel more confident about your writing, then feel free the show it.
If you do get negative comments with your early pieces, try your best to distance yourself from you and your work. Although it can be hard to do this, because you have so much invested in that piece, most negative comments are based on your work and not on you as a person, or your future ability to write. There haven’t been many writers who were good at writing on their very first attempt, and you won’t be any different. Your writing may suck today, but in six months time (writing regularly) your work will look completely different.
Read More Fiction – If you want to write good fiction you’re going to have to read good fiction. Again like genre choice, don’t force yourself to read fiction that you don’t like. If your love is romance reading, then continue reading romance novels.
As you read, pay attention to how the author create scenes, what happens in those scenes, and how the characters interact with each other. For now don’t pay attention to two story line or plotting. Instead look at how characters are dressed and how they move in those scenes. Learning how to create story lines and plotting is further down the road with your fiction writing, so don’t be too worried about those for now.
From what are discovering, go back to your own fiction writing and take a look at the scenes that you’ve wrote. Now rewrite the scene using the things you’ve just discovered. How could you improve the dialogue between your characters? Could you bring some movement into your writing? Just because your characters are sitting down at a coffee table doesn’t mean there’s no movement happening. One character could be nervously tapping their foot, while the other character could be nervously playing around with their coffee cup. Now from what you’ve read, rewrite that scene to make it even better.
Another way to improve your fiction writing to take a piece of your favorite fiction and writing it out by hand, word by word. Although this may seem laborious to do, writing fiction like this makes you slow down and pay attention to the words the author chooses, how they describe scenes, their use of dialogue. (Even if you never did anything else, but wrote out a small piece of fiction everyday your fiction writing would improve in leaps and bounds.)
And there you have it, that’s how to start fiction writing. The most important thing is to get started. By writing out a few simple scenes, you’ll soon discover if fiction writing is right for you. If you enjoy the process, then go down the route of buying more books and courses on story line, character creation, and plotting. At the end of the day if you don’t enjoy fiction writing, your readers aren’t going to enjoy reading your work. But you’ll never know unless you get started.
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