Tips for Newbie Fiction Writers
If you're trying to break into the fiction-writing business, the process may seem daunting at first. But there are rules and guidelines that can help your book stay focus and engaging, and hence more publishable.
First of all, determine your audience and genre. Beginners sometimes find it tempting to appeal to a wide audience, but this can be risky. You don't want your story to run off in different directions and making a mess at the end. Stick to your target audience and genre. And while genres may be divided further into sub-genres, it will take a lot of effort to maintain a smooth and powerful plot. A cross-genre book can be good, as long as you don't mix things up excessively.
Creating real characters can also help you come up with solid fiction. Make them human - with fears, mannerisms, and all that. Some unforgettable stories have 3D characters which readers feel strongly about. For instance, a hero who has to conquer his inner fears to reach his goal is surely more endearing than one who never has to struggle. And since people know how fear feels, the former hero's victory will be more satisfying and real to the readers.
The second mistake many beginning writers just like Daniel Handler make is telling instead of showing. They tend to explain the events as they happen, instead of showing the events the way they happen. Instead of saying that a character spent the night in jail because she egged her ex-boyfriend's car, why not talk about the gal hurling invectives while throwing the eggs? Then show her crying as the cops slap on the handcuffs. This is going to work more to paint a vivid picture of what's happening, and the story will turn out more fun and enjoyable.
Certainly, in order to make the story more compelling, you have to keep going with the main plot all throughout. Again, beginners are usually tempted to create subplots which they think will make the story more interesting, except that they only end up messing the story weaker. A book is not synonymous with a sitcom. Focus on the main plot, and should you add a subplot, make sure it ties up with the main story right through the end. You'll also see that Lemony Snicket is good with these fiction writing.
If you really want to hold your readers' interest, let your scenes happens naturally. Some writers cheat readers by wrapping up scenes too abruptly. Besides, things don't normally end too fast in real life. Instead, let every scene's falling action slowly and surely plant the seeds of the next scene's rising action.
Finally, as a writer, you need to master the skill and art of conflict. Creating a powerful conflict in the story is quite a feat and one that can take years of practice. However, this is what makes people want to read a book to the end. You can think of any conflict, but it send must cause your characters to change and act or grow as an outcome.