You may have heard this over and over, but it really is true, write about what you love to read, whether it’s a romance, mystery, science fiction or a thriller. You may not be published yet, but you have the expertise as a reader.
Focus on an idea, your starting point, and then build on inspiration to carry on into the plot, conflict, and setting. Most ideas revolve around a problem, such as a murder, betrayal or a scandal. Whatever genre you choose, your ideas can come from anywhere, a newspaper article, an obituary, or a personal experience.
If fiction is your choice, then you will want to create a believable character. A reader’s connection with a character is vital to your story. The most important thing you can do as a writer is to create a believable character that a reader will care about. The research and description you do for your character/s will be one of the most important things you create for your novel. The details of their traits, flaws, and strengths need to be real so the reader will stay with the story to the end.
The next phase/step is to build structure and plan your plot. Now that the main character is on stage in a real scene, it’s time to bring all of that together to give your story a heartbeat – this means conflict. Every reader loves a problem, which drives your plot. Once you’ve established this conflict you’ll need to map out the story into three basic sections...beginning, middle, and the end. This can change anytime you wish, but having the basic plan will guide you through to completing your novel.
Hooking the reader and making a good chapter – I’m sure you’ve heard of the phrase start your chapter with a good hook? If not, believe me when I say, it’s important. Whether you’re writing fiction or non-fiction, you will want that first sentence or paragraph to grab the reader. If it’s a non-fiction book/article, start out with a fact or a teaser of what information is to follow. As far as fiction goes, you’ll want a scene that rises with action and tension creating an arc to a mini-climax. A strong scene should advance the plot, deepen characterization, and enrich the setting.
The setting of your story is vital so it can set the stage for the life of the characters. You want your characters to seem real and react to their surroundings such as weather, colors, smells, and sounds. This is the fun part for a writer where you can create your fantasy world, but it’s key that you understand even though this may be a fiction story, you will want to be as accurate as you can. Possibly pick a locale that is easy to visit because the detailed accuracy you give to your setting could either hold or lose a reader. If a reader lives in the town your story takes place and you describe a street or restaurant incorrectly, the reader is liable to think your story isn’t worthy to continue to the end. On the other hand, if your story is a science fiction novel and it takes place on Jupiter, then you have a little more leeway to make up the details.
Another key component to your story and/or article is to have subplots, or sidebars. This would be the smaller conflicts that take place in a fiction novel. This allows readers to explore secondary characters without the pressures of the main plot’s demand. The sidebars for an article would be that interesting tidbit that adds a little more flare to your story.
Once you have finished your novel or article, then it goes without saying, revise, edit, and revise.