Want to write fiction? Many freelance writers are making the switch to writing fiction, because in 2015, fiction sells. Moreover, in 2015, readers decide which fiction sells — the gatekeepers have gone. Until Amazon’s Kindle came along, only fiction which passed through the gatekeepers of literary agents and editors sold.
If you can get a fix on what readers want, you can give it to them. Readers made the Fifty Shades of Grey series the publishing blockbuster that it is. Publishers jumped on that romance erotica bandwagon long after it started rolling. Why? Emotion. Fifty Shades aroused specific emotions. Fiction is all about EMOTION. Make readers feel, and your fiction will sell.
In many ways, fiction is easier to write than nonfiction. It’s daydreaming with words. If you want to write hot-selling fiction, you need to arouse emotions in yourself, and then in readers. So let’s look at five fiction writing tips which will help.
1. What Do You FEEL?
Start paying attention to what you feel, as you read in your favorite genre. Romance is the hottest selling genre, but emotion counts in every genre. Think about the emotions the characters feel: do you feel them? Why? What did the writer do, which drew you into the story, so that your emotions were engaged?
You can’t arouse an emotion in your characters, and then in readers, unless you feel the emotion yourself. I can’t write hard-hitting crime fiction, because I don’t want to feel those emotions. Everyone’s different. Read several different genres, until you think to yourself: “I could write that!” If you think you can, you can.
2. What Do Your Characters Feel?
When you’re creating characters, think about what they’re passionate about. Your characters love, hate and act because of their emotions. We’re all different, because we’ve had different experiences; we think in different ways.
Let’s say you’re at work. Your boss tells you you’re giving a presentation in fifteen minutes. He can’t be at the pitch meeting, so you’re handling the meeting, and doing the pitch.
How do you feel? Many people hate public speaking. Others love it. How you feel about giving the presentation depends on the kind of person you are, and the experiences you’ve had. It also depends on your thoughts. You can think yourself into a feeling of excitement and confidence – or you can think yourself into a panic.
As you write your novel or short story, your characters think, act and feel. Their emotions are governed by their thoughts, just as yours are.
3. Imagine the Experience: What Thoughts Go Through Your Mind?
Imagine you’re on holiday. You’re in a strange city. You don’t speak the language. It’s the middle of the day, you went for a walk alone to look at the sights, and now you realize you’re lost. Moreover, you seem to have wandered into a bad part of town.
Exercise: What Thoughts Are Going Through Your Mind?
Close your eyes for a moment, and imagine you’ve created a story person in that situation. Then start writing. Set the scene first. You’re this person, alone, and lost. What do you see? Perhaps you see a couple hurrying along the opposite side of the street. Their heads are down; they walk quickly. They’re not comfortable either. What are you feeling? There’s no need to name the emotion – describe how your uneasiness feels. Maybe the hair stands up on the back of your neck. Your heart beats faster.
Now your thoughts. Describe what you’re thinking. You want to get out of there – you’re watchful, as you gaze around for threats. Maybe you think about who’s waiting for you at the hotel. You’re late, your partner will worry. The fight you had that morning, which motivated you to head out alone – forgetting your cell phone – no longer seems important. You wish you’d been paying more attention to your surroundings.
4. You Create Your Characters, and Their Emotions.
In fiction, your characters can do anything, for any reason, as long as you’ve given them goals, and have motivated them so that their actions make sense. In the exercise above, your character’s thoughts and reactions will depend on the kind of person he or she is.
The key to creating emotion is to pretend you’re the character, feel what he or she would feel in a situation, and report the character’s thoughts.
5. Plot First, Write Second, Then Add Thinking and Emotions Third. (Or write first…)
Plot comes first for many writers. Others just start writing. I’m in the second group. I just start writing, often with nothing more than the impression of an idea, or an image in my mind.
However, at some stage, you need to develop a plot. You can do it in your first draft, or in your second. You don’t have a story if you don’t have a plot. Once you’ve got the glimmer of an idea, start writing. It doesn’t matter whether you’re writing a short story or a novel, write your story through from beginning to end. If this is your first draft; expect to write crap.
In your second draft, you’ll do more thinking, as you put yourself into your character’s shoes. You feel what the character feels, and think what he thinks. And you’ll develop your plot.
Feel free to move scenes around, and add new scenes in your second draft. Delete any scene which isn’t entertaining. In this post, I show you how to cut the flab in your scenes.
When you’re truly engaged with your story when you write it and later when you read it, your readers will be engaged too. They’ll feel what you want them to feel. These five writing tips will help you to write emotionally satisfying fiction which sells.
Article updated on April 27, 2015.
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