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How to Write Fiction

Writing is a skill every business person, every religious leader, every professional, and every lay person ought to have. For example, marketing a product today requires good writing skills. You need good copy for your internet products. You ought to be able to adequately describe what you’re selling, whether that pitch is in a blog, on a “squeeze page,” in a flyer, or even if it’s script for your video or podcast. Whether you’re making your living as a writer or not, you ought to be a good writer. Even leaders of churches, such as pastors or priests or administrative persons ought to have good writings skills.

If you’re a writer of fiction, you need to have imagination.  It’s also good to have a wide reading experience. A good reader will make a good writer. A fiction writer without imagination will write a boring story. One way to expand your imagination is, of course, reading a lot of fiction, particularly in the genre in which you write.  Find an author you enjoy, then study his or her work and try to pick up clues as to why this writer appeals to you.

Look at the various techniques of the author. How does the author start the story? How does the author use his characters? How does the author present material to the reader? Does he use an omniscient view mostly, or does the reader view things through the eyes of the characters, or a character? Most good authors will use a variety of viewpoints in a story. The more you know about these things, the better writer you will become. But, to be a good fiction writer isn’t only about reading other fiction stories. You should know some of the history about the period in which your story is set. For example, writing western fiction is a specialized kind of writing. One needs to be familiar with many things of the Old West, particularly the history.  If you’re going to describe a character in the Old West, you’d need to be familiar with many things. (See the following article “Describing the Western Fiction Character”).

Good use of dialog is a great help to a story. Dialog seems to capture the interest of most readers.  However, if it isn’t done right, it can become very boring. Learn to capture the interest of your reader by injecting interesting dialog. You can use dialog to develop the story, or to flesh out a character, or even to set up a scene. There are a myriad of ways to use dialog. There are many kinds of ways to use dialog. Don’t use dialog for the sake of having dialog. Resist the urge to drop dialog into a scene where it merely becomes filler. Babbling characters are no more interesting that babbling characters on Facebook or Twitter. And finally, have realistic dialog.

Writing non-fiction requires the collection of facts and making sure those facts are accurate. Depending on who you’re writing for (magazine, newspaper, blog, etc) and who you’re writing to (target market), you should follow some variation of the “Who, What, When, Where, and Why” model. Introduce your topic early, tell the reader what the article is about, and depending on the piece, you might need to show  other elements.

Sometimes, the article is a “how to” piece. You’ll need to have something in the piece that will help the reader to understand how it is he or she is going to do whatever it is you’re proposing to help them learn. Since you’re not writing a book, it isn’t supposed to be a comprehensive article. You’re not going to exhaust the subject in an article. Instead, you’re going to focus on one or two things, or you’ll generalize. Sometimes, you might want to direct the reader’s attention to stories or articles that might help them further in their learning, or might illustrate better what you’re talking about. If you’re writing a religious piece, try and focus on one aspect of that religion, like prayer for example, or one aspect of prayer.  

Writing is communicating.  Study the craft. Learn the basics. Expand your skills. And above all, write. Do it. Write as much as you can.
One day you just might be surprised at what you’ve managed to accomplish.

Consider it an investment in yourself.

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