We all know writing is hard work. But if you’re writing fiction, it can be even harder. It’s not just about getting the words on the page, but writing something that will hook and engage readers, create believable characters, and spin a great story that captivates from beginning to end.
So how do you take your writing from good to great? Let’s look at ten writing strategies for fiction writers that can help bring your stories alive and make them shine.
What Is a Writing Strategy and Why Is It Important?
A writing strategy is a method or technique a fiction writer uses to create effective storytelling.
It can help you plan your story arc, characters and plot points in advance so that as you write, everything flows smoothly.
It can also help you focus on writing with clarity and precision so that every sentence has meaning and purpose.
Having a writing strategy gives you the structure and guidance you need to ensure your writing reaches its maximum potential.
What Are The Top 10 Strategies For Fiction Writers?
Below, you’ll find 10 writing strategies that form the foundation of great fiction. These strategies are laid out on a critical path, as each builds on the one before, so make sure to implement them in sequence.
Here we go!
1. Start With A Logline
Every story begins with an idea, but what’s important is how you turn that idea into a captivating logline — a one or two sentence description of your story.
This logline should include your characters, the conflict, and the challenge they face. It will be the foundation for everything else that follows.
2. Create An Outline
Once you have your characters and storyline in place, writing an outline is the next logical step. This will help ensure all your writing flows organically and ensures there are no plot holes or inconsistencies down the line.
Start by writing an overview of events and then break them down into chapters or scenes as needed.
3. Establish Your Character Arcs
Characters are what bring stories to life so it’s important to give them depth, motivation and arcs that readers can identify with.
Before writing any dialogue or scene, spend time getting to know your characters so you can write realistically and authentically as you help them navigate their emotional journeys.
4. Write In Scenes
Writing in scenes will help keep the story moving forward and bring readers into the action as it’s unfolding.
Aim to make each scene unique, interesting and exciting, while also ensuring it’s advancing your plot in some way.
5. Show Don’t Tell
When writing fiction, it’s important to focus on writing what is seen or heard (i.e. showing) rather than telling readers what’s happening.
Just telling them what’s going on will create an emotional distance to the events. Showing them instead will draw them in further and create a more personal and engaged reading experience.
6. Add Details To Flesh Out Your Setting
The most immersive fiction is descriptive. By adding a richness of details to flesh out your setting, you’ll be helping your readers be transported into the world you’re creating, not as passive observers but as participants.
Your goal is to bring your story to life in your readers’ minds by creating vivid imagery and a sense of place they can easily visualize through your descriptive language.
7. Use Conflict To Create Tension
Conflict is essential to writing great fiction as it helps build tension and suspense, which keeps readers hooked from start to finish.
Whether it’s an internal conflict or external force, make sure your story has plenty of obstacles for the protagonist to overcome, unexpected antagonists, and unforeseen events and circumstances.
8. Pay Attention To Dialogue
Writing effective dialogue is key to creating believable stories with engaging characters.
Craft your dialogue lines carefully in a way that advances the plot, reveals character traits, and increases tension as needed throughout your writing.
Also, ensure that your dialogue delineates clearly who’s who at all times through your choice of words, use of language, localisms, and so on.
9. Don’t Be Afraid To Rewrite
Revising is an important part of writing great fiction, so don’t be afraid to rewrite as many times as you need to — there’s no shame in revisiting the same paragraph, scene or even an entire chapter multiple times until it’s just right.
Take the time to evaluate your sentence structure and make changes or adjustments that will improve the overall quality of your writing.
As an extension of the above, don’t get married to a specific phrasing — in other words, don’t force “great” lines you’ve come up with into the narrative if it feels like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
10. Get Feedback From Others
Last but not least, getting feedback from others is an invaluable resource for fiction writers.
Don’t be afraid to ask friends, family, fellow writers, entire writing groups or test readers to review your work so you can get a fresh perspective on ways you can improve your story.
Sometimes it can be hard to open oneself to criticism, but try to keep in mind that you’re not writing your fiction for yourself, you’re doing it so you can engage and entertain your readers.
So, always check to see if your writing is resonating with others and creating a personal connection with readers, and if not, find out why so you can fix it!
Writing great fiction isn’t a walk in the park, but having a good set of writing strategies in place will help you significantly.
These top 10 writing strategies for fiction writers provide the fundamentals of effective writing, helping you craft stories that captivate readers and keep them hooked until the very end.
With practice and dedication, any writer can become an expert in crafting believable and engaging stories that resonate with readers.
By writing with intention and following these writing strategies, you’ll be well on your way to writing fiction readers can’t seem to put down.
So, take the time to plan out your writing and get feedback when needed — it’ll all pay off in the end.
Harry Wallett is the Founder and Managing Director of Relay Publishing. Combining his entrepreneurial background with a love of great stories, Harry founded Relay in 2013 as a fresh way to create books and for writers to earn a living from their work. Since then, Relay has sold 3+ million copies and worked with 100s of writers on bestselling titles such as Defending Innocence, The Alveria Dragon Akademy Series and Rancher’s Family Christmas. Harry oversees the creative direction of the company, and works to develop a supportive collaborative environment for the Relay team to thrive within in order to fulfill our mission to create unputdownable books.
Relay Publishing wants you
If you think you have what it takes to become a brilliant writer, editor, or storyliner, Relay Publishing has a range of exciting opportunities.