Some people assume writing fiction is easy because you can make it up as you go along and go in any direction. However, in reality, fiction writing is a complex undertaking that must adhere to some specific guidelines to be successful. Yes, you want your story to be original, but very few writers can go off in all directions or ignore the accepted framework of successful fiction. The balancing act between originality and convention can be difficult.

It’s Not Fiction Writing Without a Narrative

Fiction should be about creating a story, not explaining what happens. You want the story to be a narrative that pulls readers in by connecting them with the characters. Don’t say what happens through a dry recitation of facts. Allow your readers to feel, see, touch, taste, and experience what is happening, so their emotions are engaged. Writing with the senses is crucial to fiction writing. It creates an atmosphere that becomes the backdrop for the story as it moves forward.  

Failing to Develop the Characters

First-time fiction writers sometimes have a plot they’re so focused on that they neglect the characters. You may have a fascinating mystery thread to unravel with a shocking reveal at the end, but if the readers aren’t invested in the characters’ fates, no one will care about the plot. Simple, one-dimensional characters are bland. Stereotypes such as the wife who is a complete witch with no redeeming qualities, turn readers off. It’s OK to have a villain or anti-hero, but there should be some facets of their personality that make them human. The same goes for the hero or heroine – perfect angels don’t interest people and can be annoying. Add depth and complexity to their personalities.

Too Many Plot Lines 

While you need to provide some background or a minor subplot to your story, fiction writing has to have a focal point. Constantly going off on tangents muddies the plot and can make the storyline confusing. Fiction writing should focus on the main story so that readers don’t get frustrated. You don’t want them to think, “What now? Why am I reading about the florist’s problems with his wife? It has nothing to do with the story.” If a subplot doesn’t enhance the overall story, it isn’t needed.

Writing Fiction with Confusing Points of View

Fiction writing from various perspectives is challenging and has to be consistent and controlled. Most fiction writing is told from just one point of view  – it allows readers to enter the head of one character and see the world through their eyes. When you jump from one perspective to another, it causes confusion. For the most part, sticking to one point of view makes it easier on the reader. Only those experienced in fiction writing are successful at multiple points of view, making the shifts very clear.

Dudley Court Press

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