Here are a few tips that I have for fellow writers. These are some of the things that I focus on during my writing process.
-TIP #1: READ A LOT!
This is VITAL in being an author. How do you preach something that you don’t practice? Reading not only helps me get out of writers block when I hit it, but it also helps to motivate me to write my own story. Reading other’s work encourages me to create my own.
My greatest tip is to read in the genre that you are currently writing in. If I’m working on a contemporary romance, but all I read is fantasy, then I’m not helping myself to perfect the craft that I’m working on. Reading in your own genre will help you to understand your audience better, which will give you a better idea of how to go about writing your novel.
On top of that, reading will give you a better glimpse of the to-do’s and what not to-do’s! This could include anything and everything from grammar to plot. If you’re reading a book and you come across a plot point that you absolutely hate, you’re not going to include anything remotely close to it into your own work. Or if you’re reading a book where you dislike how a main character acts, you’re going to avoid creating characters who act the same way. Reading will help to mold you into the writer that you wish to become!
I suggest reading everyday if you can. And again, reading in the genre that you’re currently writing in, is best!
-TIP #2: HAVE A BASIC IDEA OF WHERE YOUR PLOT IS GOING!
One of my old English teachers always said, “Everything needs to either enhance plot or character development in some type of way.” And that stuck with me for all these years!
How is this scene going to move the plot forward? How is it going to add to character development?
It’s important to know certain plot points that you know you’re gonna be adding into your story. This is your road map. It is the baseline of your entire novel. But make sure that these events are in an order that make the most sense. You want them to be easy for your readers to follow along and understand.
Don’t write plot points that have absolutely nothing to do with your story. Make sure everything you write has a purpose.
With that being said, you also don’t want to limit yourself to the plot that you originally planned. As you write, new ideas will flow through you. You may add or subtract to the plot as you go, and that’s okay. That’s normal in the writing process. Don’t feel as though you have to stick to your original plan throughout the entire novel. Write some plot twists and turns, stir things up, surprise yourself with what you come up with. Because chances are, if you write something that even YOU didn’t see coming, your readers will most definitely not see it coming. And that makes for an intriguing storyline that sucks people in.
-TIP #3: HAVING LIKE-ABLE CHARACTERS IS KEY!
This one is pretty self-explanatory, but I feel as though it’s easily forgotten.
One of my old English teachers used to constantly say, “The characters have to be like-able.” And my God, was he right! What reader wants to read a book where they hate all the characters? You have to give readers something to root for, or else they are going to put your book down. And why on Earth would they ever root for characters that they dislike?
I’m not saying that your characters should be perfect in order to be liked. Because the truth is, perfect does not exist. Every person, real or fictional, has flaws. And if characters didn’t have flaws, then they’d be static characters with no character development.
But just because they have flaws doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be like-able. Create main characters that YOU could see yourself or others you know being friends with. Give them a good personality. Stray them away from being super judgmental or from making stupid decisions constantly.
Characters are extremely important in the success of a novel, because again, no one is going to read a book full of characters that they hate.
-TIP #4: A BOOK NEEDS BOTH INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL CONFLICTS!
Both internal and external conflicts are extremely important when writing a novel.
Let’s start with internal conflicts. They are the driving forces of your main characters. They are what give the character passion, goals, and motivations throughout the story. Some internal conflicts are a result of external conflicts that are happening in a story. For example, your main character may have just found out that they got laid off from a job, and as a result, they are very worried and anxious because they aren’t sure how to deal with the situation. Other internal conflicts may be a result of a past situation or may just be how the character thinks. For example, a character with an anxiety disorder may be more anxious than others, and may spend a lot of the book working through these internal struggles. Whatever you decide that your internal conflicts are, (and must have them), that’s when you focus on maintaining and/or changing those throughout the novel in order to lead to character development. These internal struggles are what connect your readers to the characters. It’s what makes readers attached, and what makes them want to continue reading.
Moving onto external conflicts. Without them, character development can never truly occur. After all, how does someone change their thought processes or behavior if none of their surroundings are influencing them to do so? On top of that, external conflicts are what give the story substance. It’s those juicy plot twists that keep readers engaged and on edge, wanting to read more.
Think outside the box for both internal and external conflicts. Don’t write cliches. And whatever you do write, make sure the internal and external conflicts are both very alive throughout the story!
-TIP #5 PLOT TWISTS ARE USEFUL!
Give your readers something that they won’t expect.
In this day and age, it’s so hard for authors to be absolutely, 10000% original. It takes a lot of creativity to think outside the box and to write something that has never been done before. With that being said, plot twists are EXTREMELY useful. They will not only keep your readers engaged and on edge, but they’ll also make your story more unique.
When writing Forever Burn, I tried my best to add as many plot twists and turns in, while effectively developing the plot and character development. (And not to toot my own horn, but I think I did a pretty damn good job🤭)
You need to stop and think to yourself:
How can I surprise my readers?
How can I take this situation and twist it?
How can I take everything that my readers know or THOUGHT they knew, and completely flip it upside down?
Don’t let things always be what they seem.
And remember, a good plot twist is one that no reader will ever see coming.
-TIP #6: KNOW YOUR STORY INSIDE & OUT!
You should know every detail like the back of your own hand.
You should live, breathe, sleep, and eat your manuscript. Knowing every detail, including who your characters are, their background, motivations, and goals will lead to efficient character development. Knowing exact plot points and plot twists you have in mind, the dialogue involved in them, and what they lead to will create a steady and interesting plot that will keep readers engaged.
Knowing your story inside and out will also connect you more to your characters. It’ll make your attachment to them stronger. This will help you be inside their head, which will allow you to get a better understanding for who they are and how they feel. It will bleed into your writing and eventually to your readers. They’ll feel it too.
On top of that, it’s always good to know absolutely everything about your story so that when readers, editors, or agents ask questions, you’ll be prepared to answer anything.
A good author knows their work inside and out. Forwards and backwards.
Hopefully these tips will help you to successfully finish your novel!(: