Write It Sideways

101 of the Best Fiction-Writing Tips, Part I

What if someone went through the biggest and best blogs on the internet and pulled out the very best tips for fiction writers?

That’s what I’ve attempted to do here. I can’t guarantee there aren’t some amazingly helpful writing tips that I haven’t included, but this is a good start.

I’ve also tried to steer clear of really obvious tips like “show, don’t tell” or “make your characters unforgettable,” in favour of ones that are less often discussed.

To learn more about the tips, click through to their original articles.

101 of the Best Fiction-Writing Tips, Part I

  1. Calling characters by their proper names in dialogue almost always sound phoney. 5 Creative Flaws that Will Expose Your Lack of Storytelling Experience. Storyfix
  2. There’s never a perfect time for writing, so stop waiting for it. Why There’ll Never Be a Perfect Time to Write. Daily Writing Tips
  3. Be selective about what you include in your story. You don’t need it all. Six Structural Problems Writers Face & How to Fix them. Beyond the Margins
  4. Increase the stakes for your characters to prevent sagging story middles. When Middles Sag. Writers in the Storm
  5. Use a waterproof dive slate to take notes in the shower. The Three Writing Tools I Can’t Live Without. Writer Unboxed
  6. Avoid extended dialogue without sufficient grounding. Five Openings to Avoid. Nathan Bransford
  7. To write a better book, write your query letter first. Write Your Query First for a Better Book. Writer Unboxed
  8. Bigger doesn’t mean better. Use simple words instead of deliberately choosing big words. Just Call It Freaking “Green” Already. Writer Unboxed
  9. Writer’s block might mean you’re trying to write something you’re not ready to write. Advice from Jonathan Franzen. Gotham Writers’ Workshop
  10. Epiphanies are overused in fiction, and can be boring. The Problem of the Eureka Moment. Beyond the Margins
  11. Your novel shouldn’t be a thinly-disguised memoir. 12 Signs Your Novel Isn’t Ready to Publish. Anne R. Allen
  12. Try to use all five senses when writing each scene of your book. 5 Tips for Writing Better Settings. Jody Hedlund
  13. Don’t describe silence as ‘deafening’. Things to Avoid [in Writing]. Glass Cases
  14. Prologues usually just encourage infodumps. Prologues–This Side of Hell. Behler Blog
  15.  Using defense mechanisms can increase the tension between characters. Using Defense Mechanisms for Characters. Roni Loren’s Writing Blog
  16. Less is more when it comes to describing your characters. Why Less Detail Makes More Believable Characters. Plot to Punctuation
  17. In action scenes, vary sentence length and structure to increase or decrease speed and excitement. Tips on Writing Action Scenes. The Other Side of the Story
  18. Evaluate your story by defining its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. How to S.W.O.T. Your Story Over the Fence. Storyfix
  19. In first drafts, you don’t need to know everything. Use placeholders (like X) as reminders to research a detail later. First Draft Secrets: Five Simple Steps. Write to Done
  20. Sometimes the most important moments in dialogue is what isn’t saidWhat Isn’t Said: Subtext in Dialogue. Author Culture
  21. Try using an ambiguous ending to create a plot twist (often works well in short stories). 10 Ways to Create a Plot Twist. T.N. Tobias 
  22. Avoid overused, obvious symbolism in your fiction. The Obvious Symbolism Police. Glass Cases
  23. Dialogue should reveal emotion through words, not adverbs (eg. “she said angrily”). Tips for Improving Dialogue In Your Novel. The Creative Penn
  24. Know everything about your characters’ backstories, but write about only 10% of it. Character Planning. Procrastinating Writers
  25. Your protagonist can’t be easily satisfied. He needs to want something badly. Can You Write a Publishable First Novel? Anne R. Allen’s Blog

Thanks to all these amazing bloggers for their valuable advice! Which tip is your favourite so far?

Now, head over to the rest of the series:

Are you serious about improving your writing?

You can’t go past Sarah Selecky’s The Story Course (formerly Story is a State of Mind).

Read my full review of The Story Course.