Writing fiction is an art form that many attempt but few truly master. Taking cues from some of the best works in the literary genre, here are 6 golden rules for writing better fiction.

1. Keep Those Exclamation Points Under Control

Does the tune of this writing sound natural to you! Clearly not! And it is because of these exclamation points! Don’t abuse the use of an exclamation point otherwise, you will make your writing sound quite unnatural.

2. Avoid Opening With the Weather

There are countless other ways you can open your book other than the weather. It’s cliché and simply not interesting. Sure, talk about the weather to set the scene but there is no reason to discuss in length your character’s reaction to it.

3. Ditch the “Said”

“She said”, “he said”, and, “they said” – no! Instead, use phrases like “she expressed”, “he proclaimed” and “they added”. There are countless words in the English dictionary you can use instead of said to carry the dialogue in your writing.

4. Kill the Adverbs

Consider it also a sin to make use of adverbs to modify the verb. It is distracting and can ruin the rhythm of the written sentence. Rather seek the use of a better-suited verb. Instead of, “he said angrily”, consider “he bellowed”; instead of, “the animal walked heavy and awkwardly onwards”, consider “the animal lumbered onwards”; instead of “she looked at it slightly”, consider “she glanced at it”.

5. Show, Don’t Tell

One of the most crucial rules in fiction writing is to show rather than tell. This means that instead of explaining emotions, settings, or actions to your readers, you should illustrate them through vivid descriptions and actions.

So, rather than saying “John was scared,” you might write, “John’s hands trembled, and he could hear his heartbeat pounding in his ears.” This technique makes your writing more immersive and engaging.

6. Develop Three-Dimensional Characters

Readers connect with stories through their characters. Don’t make them dull. To create memorable and relatable characters, give them depth and complexity. Avoid one-dimensional archetypes; instead, imbue your characters with flaws, desires, and backgrounds that influence their actions and decisions. A well-developed character should grow and change throughout the story, providing a dynamic and satisfying journey for your readers.

What other rules would you like to have added to the list? Consider dropping your thoughts in the comments below.

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