Books

The Five Mistakes Fiction Writers Make and How to Avoid Them

This blog is from “FICTION IN A WEEKEND” brought to you by Alicia Dunams
— http://www.aliciadunams.com/askafictionwriter/

People often ask me if writing is hard. My answer is always this: “Yes, but it doesn’t have to be.”

Writing a novel, whether it’s a fantasy involving new worlds or a romance containing scintillating love scenes, can be a challenge. The key to not being overwhelmed when authoring your book is preparation and perseverance.

Here are five common mistakes and how to avoid them.

Mistake #1 Plunging into the Actual Writing with No Outline

Take it from someone who made the mistake (more than once!) of not creating an outline, you should ALWAYS structure one before beginning any writing. The rationale is analogous to building a home. It would be foolish not to draft a blueprint before initiating construction. The same mindset applies to writing a book. “Winging it” is a recipe for disaster.

Mistake #2 Not Thinking Through the Plot at the Outset

Similar to the preparations involved in outlining, you want to know where your story is going throughout. The more you map out each chapter before writing, the better prepared you will be to tackle the actual scenes you will eventually write. A good idea is to consider which character will be in each scene, the setting, and what each character will want as well as their obstacle(s).

Mistake #3 Creating Unsympathetic or Two-Dimensional Characters

Fiction readers want to fall in love with the characters they read about in books. Even the villains. It’s crucial to take the time to make your characters’ qualities as specific as possible so they feel real. Find reasons for your audience to empathize with your creations. Give them strengths, but don’t be hesitant to make them flawed too. Perfect characters are boring.

Mistake #4 Procrastination

Once you begin writing, don’t take time off. Breaks for more than a day or two at a time are detrimental to your success. Inertia can be a powerful force. Don’t put off your writing. Even if you hate every second of it, force yourself to do a certain amount every day until the work is done. You’ll feel incredibly satisfied when your book is finally complete!

Mistake #5 Failing to Follow a Consistent Writing Schedule

This relates to #4. Establishing daily goals is key. Set a quota, such a word, page or timer count and follow through with your program no matter what. Little milestones matter to your overall mental health. So long as you feel productive, you will stay productive. Even if you don’t think your work is outstanding yet, continue to make your quota. The most important thing is to get all the ideas out of your head and onto the page. You will have plenty of time to revise the material later. Once your first draft is finished, rewrite and rewrite it until it is perfect.

Then rewrite it again.

For more information related to this topic, click here: http://www.aliciadunams.com/askafictionwriter/

5 Tips for Writing Your First Book

This blog is part of a series of helpful pointers for fellow writers in the “The Six-Figure Writer” Community

I get this question a lot: “Is it hard to write a book?” It depends on what you wish to write. Writing a novel, especially a fantasy epic involving new worlds and a rich backstory, can be challenging. Writing a non-fiction book on the other hand, may require less conceptual imagining but more time-consuming research. The key to not being overwhelmed when penning either is preparation and perseverance. Below, please find some suggestions on how to begin your first book.

1. Always Create an Outline

Take it from someone who made the mistake (more than once) of not creating an outline, you should ALWAYS create one before beginning any writing. The rationale is analogous to building a home. It would be foolish not to draft a blueprint before initiating construction. The same mindset applies to writing a book. Simply “winging it” is a mistake. You want to know exactly where your story is going. The more you map out each chapter, the better prepared you will be to actually start writing.

2. Do the Heavy-Lifting at the Outset

Similar to the preparations involved in outlining, you want to tackle the taxing mental work upfront. I suggest front-loading each project with all the difficult aspects. The more prepared you are, the more you know your material, the better off you will be down the road. You want to make all the significant content choices as early as possible in the process so you don’t end up painting yourself into a corner later by not thinking things through first.

3. Leave Room for Innovation

The flip-side to suggestions #1 and 2. Know your book’s through-line or trajectory but don’t get (unnecessarily) bogged down in the specific details. Though it’s important to be highly prepared, you want to leave room for spontaneous creative bursts. Build in some room for flexibility.

4. Don’t Give Up

Once you begin writing, don’t take breaks for more than a day or two at a time. Inertia can be a powerful force. Don’t stop writing until you’ve completed your first draft. Even if you think what you’ve typed is not ideal, don’t halt. The most important thing is to get all the ideas out of your head and onto the screen (or paper if you’re oldschool.) You will have plenty of time to revise the material later.

5. Consider a Ghost-Writer or Writing Coach

Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you get stuck. Depending on the ambitions for your project, perhaps bringing in a professional is a good idea. If the purpose of writing a book is to give your business credibility and it’s not your literary opus, then it is okay to acknowledge the fact that it was your idea, but you may need someone else to bring it to fruition.

There are many, many more tips to writing your first book. Please feel free to share yours. For more info and helpful resources, please visit the Six-Figure Writer Page.