Three Rules for Writing Fiction

author writingThere are many so-called “rules” that every writer should know before even attempting a work of fiction. Some are easier than others to follow. While a writer should read up on the fundamentals of creating solid fiction, this article will focus on three main rules that a good writer must know of and must abide by during the writing process. They are as follows:
1).    Show, don’t tell. This rule has probably been mentioned so many times that every time a writer hears it he cringes. Too bad. It’s a rule that has to be followed. Imagine a character described by an author as tall, pretty, sad, and pathetic. It’s difficult to do, right? That’s because we don’t have specifics. How tall? What does the character look like? How sad? Without showing those specifics, the reader has nothing to visualize or grasp about a character. Now, change the character description to: “the girl with the symmetrical face couldn’t stop crying, even though she had no idea anymore what she was crying about.” That’s a much more creative way to say “the pretty girl was sad.”
2).    Start with a bang. Many writers might disagree with this rule, since a good amount of quality stories start slow and build. However, even a novel with a slow start has to begin with something worth reading about. Opening a story or novel with lots of exposition or scenery description will quickly lose any reader. Decide what your story is about first and inform the reader of your conflict as early as possible. Weave exposition, description, and any flashbacks in with the development of the plot. Do not “info dump” in the beginning and then start moving the plot along.
3).    There must be something at stake. There are too many stories written about nothing. Even Seinfeld, the show about nothing, had individual episodes about something. What do your characters have to lose? To win? What are they seeking? If you can’t answer those questions, stop writing immediately. They are the building blocks of conflict and tension. Do not write a story about a couple of characters floating around not doing anything and musing about their life. Your readers will tune out.
Anyone who sticks to those three main rules will be able to write compelling fiction. Without these rules, a story is flat, stagnant, boring, and uninteresting. Be sure that you are writing a story worth reading and worth the investment.