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How to Write Fiction: A Guide for Beginners

Why do we want to write fiction? Because fiction is one of the most powerful tools for exploring the human psyche.

Through fiction, we can tell and analyze what we have experienced and what has made us suffer, rejoice, and think without exposing our lives or those of the people close to us.

Fiction allows us to explore the themes that are dear to us in the most empathetic form: through other people’s lives, albeit imaginary.

Writing fiction is not easy, and it often happens to abandon a writing project because we don’t know how to start or because we don’t have confidence in the goodness of our ideas or writing abilities.

However, writing can be learned, like playing a musical instrument or practicing a sport. Like all disciplines, there is a learning curve. You need a minimum amount of predisposition and must study and exercise.

But you can do it. It is a path that not only will allow you to learn a skill but also to discover new sides of yourself and grow, first and foremost, as a person. A person capable of helping themselves and their readers to understand and, possibly, make the world we live in a better place.

Understanding what is fiction writing

Writing fiction is the art of creating imaginary stories.

Unlike non-fiction, which deals with events that really happened, fiction tells stories that may or may not exist in reality (think, for example, of science fiction novels or novels with talking animals and anthropomorphic characters) but that encapsulate truths about the human condition.

Fiction is an ancient art form that has evolved from oral stories passed down from generation to generation to the novel’s more complex and sophisticated forms. Fiction has always contributed to shaping popular culture in many different ways. Educating, denouncing, or simply entertaining.

How to write fiction: key elements for developing a fiction story

To create a work of fiction that can capture and engage the reader, it is necessary to focus on some key elements: plot, characters, setting, conflict, and theme.

Each of these elements must be properly developed and must work cohesively with the others.

  • Conflict. Conflict is the engine of every story and is undoubtedly crucial. Conflict is a desire, an inner need, or a reaction to an external situation that a character must face, initiating the story. There can be no story without conflict. Conflict engages readers eager to discover how the characters will overcome their obstacles.
  • Characters. Characters are the conduit through which readers experience the story. For this reason, characters must be well-developed and believable. To be believable, they must not be stereotypes but must exhibit their human nature, allowing readers to see themselves in them and empathize with their conflict.
  • Setting. The setting represents the time and place where the story takes place. A well-defined and, above all, coherent setting is essential so that readers can immerse themselves in the story. A millennial in London doesn’t dress or talk like an eighteen-year-old in the trenches during the First World War.
  • Plot. Plot is the sequence of events that carries a narrative from beginning to end. Every event in the plot must be functional to the resolution of the conflict and must keep the readers’ attention and curiosity alive.
  • Theme. The theme is the message that your narrative wants to convey. The theme can involve universal human experiences (love, death, friendship, family), social issues, or personal growth. The presence of a significant theme distinguishes a work of pure entertainment from a deeper work capable of inspiring or prompting readers to think.

Tips and techniques for writing fiction books for beginners

As fascinating as it may seem, the feverishly writing writer guided by the sacred fire of inspiration does not exist. Fiction writing requires practice, patience, and perseverance. So here are some tips and techniques to help you learn how to write fiction.

  • Read, read, read. If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write, said Stephen King. By reading, you can learn different styles, techniques, and genres to help you understand how to create your narrative voice. Try understanding how experienced authors develop their plots, characters, and settings. Consider what you like and don’t like, and consider how to apply it to your writing.
  • Know your genre. Regardless of the genre you want to delve into, it is essential to know the conventions that govern it to meet readers’ expectations. For example, in a romance novel, a tormented love relationship between the protagonists cannot be missing. On the other hand, readers of a thriller are looking for suspense, pacing, and plot twists.
  • Develop a writing routine. Find moments during the day or week to dedicate to writing and treat them as non-negotiable commitments, like a pre-paid, non-refundable night in a luxury hotel. This routine will help you maintain momentum and progress in your project.
  • Writing is rewriting. The first draft is just the beginning of the process. Be prepared to revise and refine your work multiple times. Only through rewriting can you perfect the plot, deepen the characters, and improve your prose.
  • Seek feedback. A story is written to be read, so share your work with trusted friends, family, or writing groups. Constructive criticism is not rejection but is the best way to improve your writing.
  • Believe in yourself. Writing fiction is not easy. There will be days when you write effortlessly and others when you struggle tremendously. Don’t give up, perseverance is the key. And for moments of difficulty, look at this article on overcoming writer’s block.

Practice Exercises to Enhance Fiction Writing Skills

For aspiring writers, before tackling a complex and demanding project such as a novel, it may be useful to practice with some exercises.

To start, try writing short stories. If you’re just starting out, short stories allow you to try different writing styles and genres. The goal is to try to find your narrative voice and the genre that best suits you.

Another extremely useful exercise is creating portraits of your characters. Characters should be three-dimensional, meaning they, like all of us, should have strengths, weaknesses, desires, and fears. An effective and enjoyable way to create a character portrait is to use the interview mode of the bibisco novel writing software. Through questions divided by topic (personal data, physical characteristics, psychology, social relationships, ideas, and passions, life before the beginning of the story), you can get to know everything about our characters, particularly their conflict, which will be the focal point of our story.

How to write fiction: bibisco's character interview tool
bibisco’s character interview tool

Every good story has the right balance of narrative and dialogue. Practice writing dialogue between your characters and try to make the dialogue as natural as possible. Good dialogue conveys information to the reader and allows you to understand the emotions of the characters. Read the dialogue aloud to spot any awkward expressions or inconsistencies. To find out more you can take a look at the series of articles on dialogues.

Lastly, it’s very important to practice describing the settings of our story. Ensure that all five senses of the readers are stimulated. For example, if a character arrives at an Italian market, in addition to describing the colors of the oranges and lemons they see, describe the taste of the grapes they sample, the scent of the melons, the chatter of the vendors, and the sensation of the warm midday sun on their skin.

bibisco: user-friendly program to help you write fiction

Writing fiction is not easy for beginners, but some tools can be of great help.

bibisco novel writing software offers a comprehensive set of features designed to support writers at every stage of the writing process: character development, world-building, plot definition, and novel organization.

How to write fiction: bibisco's writing tips integrated with writing tools
bibisco’s writing tips integrated with writing tools

bibisco provides a user-friendly platform that is particularly suitable for beginners to learn how to write fiction as every feature of the software is accompanied by an explanation of its narrative purpose.

Conclusion: how to write fiction

Writing is a journey of discovery. Not just about the stories you want to tell, but first and foremost about yourself as a writer.

It is not an easy path and requires study and perseverance. But writing is a wonderful tool that allows you to communicate your ideas to the world, to carry on your battles, in the most direct and empathetic way possible: through the stories of your characters.

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