When I first set out to write a novel, I remember feeling overwhelmed. The question of how to write a fiction book felt unanswerable. I was standing at the foot of Mount Everest with nothing but a pair of worn-out sneakers and a less-than-stellar sense of direction.
Plotting, character creation, setting descriptions, dialogue…
it all seemed like a herculean task, not to mention the terrifying notion of getting it all down in a coherent, interesting, and engaging way. It’s safe to say, my author friends, I understand the apprehension you might feel at this very moment.
But let me share with you the best piece of advice I received during those early daunting days: every marathon begins with a single step.
Writing a novel is no different. Bit by bit, scene by scene, character by character, your story will come to life. The question is: How do we break this monumental task into manageable, digestible pieces?
And that, my friends, is where Fictionary comes into the picture.
Fictionary is the magic wand I wish I had when I started out.
it’s a writer’s best friend, a constant companion through the tumultuous journey of novel writing. It’s a tool designed to make writing a fiction book not just bearable, but enjoyable. From character development and plot structuring to setting details, Fictionary is equipped to handle it all.
So, join me, dear writers, as I share my top tips on how to write a fiction book that readers will adore.
Through this guide, I will not only draw from my own experiences, successes, and even the occasional blunders (yes, they happen to the best of us!), but also showcase how Fictionary can ease the process. This journey may have its challenges, but with the right guidance and tools, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a novelist. Are you ready to dive into the wonderful world of fiction writing? Want to know how to write a fiction book?
Let’s get started.
Top Tips for How to Write Fiction
1. Create Your Protagonist
Let’s dive into the very first of our top tips on how to write a fiction book readers can’t help but love… creating your protagonist. This isn’t just about crafting a main character, it’s about breathing life into a new person.
A person who will carry the weight of your story on their shoulders.
When designing your protagonist (along with your antagonist and major side characters) give them five things, including:
Remember, no protagonist is born out of the ether.
They’re a product of their experiences, and the most impactful of these is what I like to call their ‘wound’.
This wound could be anything, including:
- A tragedy in their past
- A deep-seated insecurity
- A physical ailment
It’s an event or circumstance that leaves a lasting mark on them, setting the stage for their journey. This could be the loss of a loved one, an accident, or an unfortunate event that has a profound effect on their life.
Born from this wound is the protagonist’s flaw, or ‘scar’, as I often refer to it.
This is the baggage they carry with them, the negative misconception that affects how they view themselves and the world.
It’s a lens through which they interpret everything, and it’s usually faulty.
For example, if their wound is that their family abandoned them as a child, they might bear the scar of believing they’re unlovable. This scar shapes their interactions and decisions, often standing in the way of what they want.
Speaking of ‘want’, every protagonist needs an external desire.
This is a goal they’re striving to reach. It’s what drives your plot forward. They might want to win the big game, solve the mystery, or save the world. It’s important to define this early on, as it gives your protagonist a direction and provides a way for readers to root for them.
Contrasting with their external want is their internal ‘need’. This is the life lesson or understanding they need to gain to heal their scar.
In our earlier example, our protagonist needs to understand that their worth isn’t determined by others’ opinions. It’s this transformation that forms the emotional core of your story and gives your protagonist depth.
Finally, don’t forget about uniqueness.
Your protagonist should stand out from the crowd. You can achieve this by giving them:
- A distinctive skill
- A quirky speech pattern
- A striking physical trait
- A memorable symbol associated with them
This isn’t just about making them more interesting. It also helps your readers to remember them long after they’ve turned the last page.
And there you have it, a formula to give your protagonist a vibrant, three-dimensional life of their own. But remember, while these elements are essential, they’re also flexible. As you get to know your protagonist, adapt and strengthen these aspects to fit their story. After all, you’re not just creating a character, you’re bringing a person to life.
Try it, and if you need help, there’s always Fictionary.
It’s not only equipped to help with how to write a fiction book, but it’s also a great tool for developing characters. It helped me make my characters more real and relatable, and I believe it can do the same for you.
The great thing about Fictionary is it allows you to set a protagonist goal for the entire story (using the skeleton blurb feature). You can also set individual scene goals. This ensures every scene goal relates back to the main story goal, so every scene in your novel has purpose and deserves to be there.
2. Outline Your Plot: The Best Way to Structure When Writing a Fiction Book
Creating an interesting plot is a crucial step when answering the question of how to write a fiction book.
The process can intimidate, but it doesn’t have to be scary. In my years as a writer, I’ve found outlining to be a writer’s best friend. And in mastering the structure of my novels, Fictionary has helped to illuminate the path.
Fictionary’s Story Arc feature is revolutionary. On the Story Arc Graph below, the blue line represents the recommended story arc. The yellow line represents the story arc Fiction chooses for your story.
How did Fictionary arrive at the recommended story arc, you ask?
When CEO Kristina Stanley developed the Fictionary Software, she examined all the popular story structures templates including:
- Save the Cat Writes a Novel
- K.M. Weiland’s Story Structure
- The Hero’s Journey
- Aristotles Poetics
- And more…
She discovered all story arcs share five key plot points in common.
Let’s take a peek at those, shall we?
Inciting Incident (Appears Between 0% and 15% of the Way Through Your Story)
Every memorable story kicks off with an inciting incident. The inciting incident is the catalyst that disrupts your protagonist’s ordinary world. It propels them into the central conflict of your plot.
It’s the spark that lights the fire of your story.
Let’s take a classic example. ‘The Lord of the Rings’. Tolkien’s inciting incident occurs when Bilbo leaves The One Ring to Frodo. The gifted ring disrupts the comfortable life Frodo led in the Shire, setting him on a path he never expected to walk. Without this event, there would be no adventure, no Ring to destroy, no journey to Mordor.
In Fictionary, I always focus on clearly defining the inciting incident. This event is the cornerstone that holds up the rest of your plot.
Plot Point 1
Next comes Plot Point 1, when your protagonist makes a crucial decision that sets the trajectory for the rest of the story.
It’s a point of no return, the commitment to the journey.
In ‘The Hunger Games’, this is when Katniss enters the arena. This decision is pivotal to the story, driving the entire plot. Now that Katniss is in the arena, she definitely can’t back out of the games.
With Fictionary, you can easily track your first plot point, ensuring that it aligns with your character’s motivations and propels your narrative forward.
The Middle Event
The middle event is a major occurrence right at the heart of your book.
It acts like a mirror, reflecting the theme of the novel and often forces the protagonist to confront their fear or flaw. It also raises the stakes and shifts the protagonist from a reactive to active state.
In ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, the middle event occurs during the court case where Atticus Finch defends Tom Robinson, embodying the novel’s theme of racial injustice.
Fictionary helps identify the middle event and ensure that it increases the story stakes in your novel.
Plot Point 2
Plot Point 2 is a dramatic event that pushes your protagonist into the final act of your story. It’s often a low point for your character, where everything seems lost, but it serves to ignite the resolution of your plot.
In ‘Star Wars: A New Hope’, Plot Point 2 happens when Obi-Wan Kenobi dies, plunging Luke into despair but also sparking his determination to defeat the Empire.
Fictionary allows you to determine if your second plot point packs a punch, providing a powerful launch into your story’s climax.
The climax is the peak of your story’s conflict, the moment of highest tension, and the culmination of your protagonist’s arc. It answers the question, “Does my protagonist succeed or fail in achieving their external story goal?”
In ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’, the climax occurs when Harry faces off with Voldemort, finally overcoming the adversary who’s been shadowing him throughout the book.
Fictionary assists in ensuring your climax provides both a satisfying resolution to the story’s conflict and a clear demonstration of your protagonist’s transformation.
Fictionary’s story arc tool was instrumental in the outlining of my novels, offering a visual guide to pacing and structure. This, combined with the flexibility to adapt the arc to the unique needs of my story, has made Fictionary an indispensable tool in my writing toolkit.
So remember, a well-structured plot isn’t just about a sequence of events. No, no. It’s about the progression of your protagonist’s journey. Your plot is the vessel that carries your protagonist (and your readers) from the beginning to the end of that journey. Use these plot points to guide you, and you’ll be well on your way to writing fiction that readers love.
3. Structure Your Settings
A novel’s setting, or the world you immerse your readers in, serves as much more than a simple backdrop. It’s essential in answering the question of how to write a fiction book.
It’s an integral part of your story that shapes your characters and impacts your plot.
And let me tell you, creating a vivid setting was one of the trickiest parts for me when I started out as a writer. Thankfully, tools like Fictionary now make it a whole lot easier to keep track of and enrich your settings.
White Room Syndrome
When I talk about White Room Syndrome, I mean those times when characters seem to interact in a blank void.
You’re so wrapped up in the dialogue and action that you forget to paint the world around your characters. Readers can’t visualise the scene, which can disconnect them from your story.
I remember struggling with this in my earlier drafts, but Fictionary’s powerful scene-setting analysis helped me spot these instances and enhance my descriptions. It’s a godsend for avoiding those dreaded white room moments and grounding your readers in your story’s world.
The Five Senses: A Subtle Symphony
Incorporating all five senses into your narrative can create an immersive experience that pulls your readers into your story’s world. Let’s explore each sense and how best to use it in your narrative.
Sight: More Than Meets the Eye
Sight is the most commonly used sense in writing. But rather than merely describing what your characters see, try to evoke emotions and set the mood. A bleak, abandoned house can convey a sense of dread, while a lush, sunlit meadow can evoke peace.
Sound: Echoing Emotions
Sounds can create an auditory landscape that’s as rich as your visual one. The rustle of leaves in the wind can suggest unease, while a child’s laughter might signal joy or innocence. Listen for the sounds in your imagined world and give them life on the page.
Smell: A Scented Snapshot
Smells can elicit strong emotions and memories. The scent of freshly baked cookies might transport a character back to their grandmother’s kitchen, while the sharp tang of antiseptic can bring a hospital room to life.
Taste: A Flavourful Detail
Taste is often overlooked in writing but can add a powerful punch. The bitter taste of coffee, the sweet burst of a ripe strawberry. These details can ground your reader in a scene and add a layer of authenticity.
Touch: A Tactile Connection
The sense of touch can forge an intimate connection between your characters and their world. The rough bark of a tree, the chill of a metal doorknob. These tactile experiences can draw your reader deeper into your narrative.
Filtering and the Five Senses
You’ve probably heard of “filter words”.
These pesky little words that can create distance between your readers and your characters’ experiences. Filter words include:
These words literally place a filter between the reader and the character’s sensory experience.
Instead of writing:
“She felt the rain on her skin.”
“Rain pattered against her skin.”
It’s a subtle change, but removing the sensory word brings your reader closer to the character’s experience.
In your journey of stimulating the five senses in your writing, Fictionary can be your indispensable companion. No, it won’t point out filtering for you, but it will help you keep track of where sensory information is used in your narrative. Fictionary’s innovative technology allows you to assess each scene for its use of sensory details.
As you sift through your manuscript, Fictionary’s Story Map feature makes it easy to see if you’ve missed opportunities to engage a particular sense.
This helps you to consistently provide a rich, multi-sensory experience for your readers, immersing them deeper into your story world. Thanks to Fictionary, you’re empowered to ensure that every scene captivates readers’ senses and elevates their reading experience.
This is just one of many ways Fictionary can aid you in your fiction writing journey.
Weather: Your Secret Weapon When Writing A Fiction Book
Weather isn’t just about whether it’s sunny or raining in your scene.
It’s a powerful tool that can reflect your character’s mood, create tension, or symbolise larger themes. Imagine how a brewing storm can echo a character’s inner turmoil or a sunny spring day can denote hope.
When I was developing my first novel, I remember finding it challenging to consistently integrate weather into my scenes.
Fictionary turned out to be my secret weapon. It allowed me to track the weather in every scene, making it easy to see where I could use this tool to amplify the emotional tone of my narrative. It’s like having a literary weather station, prompting you to consider the atmospheric conditions of your story’s world and how they interact with your plot and characters.
Creating a robust setting is no easy task, but it’s a crucial one. The world you create for your characters is the stage upon which your story unfolds.
It shapes your readers’ experience and breathes life into your narrative. With these strategies and Fictionary at your side, you can craft settings that captivate your readers and enhance your story.
As someone who has wrestled with blank voids, sensory ambiguity, and weather-less worlds in my early drafts, I can’t tell you enough how much of a game-changer Fictionary has been for my writing process. Remember, your setting is not just a backdrop, but a living, breathing entity that shapes your characters, impacts your plot, and immerses your readers in the world you’ve created.
So, take the time to paint it with all the colours of your creative palette.
3 Tips for Actually Writing Fiction
Crafting a compelling story takes more than just a great idea.
It requires consistency, discipline, and a commitment to see it through. Let’s delve into three tried-and-tested tips to help you get that writing done.
Create A Writing Routine
I can’t stress enough the value of a regular writing routine.
When I first began writing, I found carving out a consistent writing slot in my daily schedule was instrumental.
Your routine might be a mere 15 minutes or a luxurious hour of writing each day.
What matters is it’s a time dedicated solely to your craft. Consistency breeds familiarity, and your mind will start sparking creativity whenever it’s time to write. And remember, even a single sentence written is progress.
Use Writing Sprints
Next, let’s talk about writing sprints. This technique has been a lifesaver in my writing journey.
You set a timer (15-30 minutes is a good start) and write non-stop until the time is up. It’s amazing how much you can produce when the clock is ticking. The urgency quells perfectionism and fuels creativity.
At the end of the sprint, give yourself a short break before diving into the next one. It’s like high-intensity interval training but for writing.
Commit to Finishing Your Story
And finally, the most important tip of all…
Commit to finishing your story.
As writers, we often get tempted by shiny new ideas, but hopping from project to project leads nowhere. I’ve learned that finishing a draft, no matter how messy, is the biggest hurdle to cross.
Once you’ve got a completed story, you’ve got something tangible to shape and improve. So, embrace the rough edges and push forward until you type ‘The End.’ After all, a rough draft is better than an unwritten one.
Conclusion: How to Write a Fiction Book
So there we have it, my writerly comrades.
We’ve embarked on quite the journey, exploring the vast landscape of fiction writing from creating unforgettable characters, outlining an engaging plot, enlivening our settings, to ensuring we get the writing done.
Trust me, I know firsthand that the writing process is a marathon, not a sprint. But the most gratifying part?
Reaching the finish line.
Now, I won’t sugarcoat it. Writing a book is challenging, and the process can sometimes feel like navigating a maze in the dark. There are so many elements to juggle, from character arcs to plot twists to sensory details.
But remember, you’re not alone in this. That’s where Fictionary comes into play.
Fictionary is a game-changer for authors. When I was first grappling with the mammoth task of writing a book, I wish I had a tool like Fictionary at my disposal.
It’s an all-in-one platform that helps you keep track of the crucial elements of your story. It guides you through the revision process, pointing out areas that might need more attention, and illuminating your narrative’s strengths.
It’s like having a roadmap for your writing journey.
While writing a book requires grit, creativity, and a dash of madness, it’s also an incredibly rewarding adventure. Each character you craft, each plot twist you conceive, and each sentence you write brings you one step closer to sharing your unique story with the world. And remember, there’s no ‘right’ way to write a book.
What works for one writer might not work for another. Your writing process is as unique as the stories you weave. But with a helping hand from Fictionary, you’re well-equipped to navigate the path from your first word to ‘The End.’
Here’s to your writing journey.
Article Written by Shane Millar
Shane Millar is a Fictionary Certified Story Coach and the author of the Write Better Fiction craft guides. He is also the author of the Myth & Magic and Chosen Vampire urban fantasy thriller series.
Shane holds a BA in journalism and is a member of The Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi). He lives in Buckinghamshire, England.
He has taken too many writing courses to count and enjoys reading as much as possible. Shane is obsessed with five things: the writing craft, mythology, personal development, food, and martial arts movies.
Want to hire Shane to edit your novel? Visit: https://swmillar.com/editing