Writing Tips

What You Must Know Before Writing Fiction to Avoid Stress

Have you always wanted to write a book but weren’t sure where to start? Have you began writing but gave up because it was too stressful? This is the post for you. I will be explaining my top five writing tips that I learned through earning a Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing and through my own experiences.

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Tip #1

Start With An Outline

It’s so important to plan things out before you start writing each chapter. The more you plan out, the easier the actual writing will be. This plan is adaptable; you can change parts if you come up with something better, but having a direction your story will go in is critical in ensuring there’s enough conflict and the story progresses at a nice pace. 

Breaking the outline down further can help make it less stressful. Start with your idea, then break that up into the protagonist’s goal and the antagonist. Then, plan out each central part (exposition, climax, conclusion), and it will be easier to fill in the in-between.

The more sections you break the outline into, the easier it will be to plan out. Trying to plan an entire story is a lot harder than planning the main conflict and then each step leading up to it. 

Tip #2

Perfection Leads to Procrastination

I struggled with this tip so much when I started writing, and I know many of you can probably relate. Overthinking everything you write and striving to make every sentence perfect right off the bat is only going to lead to an empty page. Striving for perfection can lead to putting off writing because you think, What if this isn’t good enough? or, I’m not sure how to word this sentence, so I can’t move on.

Of course, in the end, we all want to write the perfect story, but this is just the beginning. Don’t overthink your ideas and let yourself write. After you have a foundation, you can build on it and revise what’s needed. 

You could be worrying yourself out of a great story simply because you don’t think it’s good enough to plan out, and once you do, you may discover it’s the best thing you’ve written.

This also applies to waiting for “the right time.” This is, again, something that many people, including myself, struggle with. 

I’ll wait until next week to start my novel because this week isn’t a good time.

My desk is too messy, so I’ll wait until I clean it to write.

Have thoughts like these ever run through your mind? If you find you keep putting off writing, set a timer for five minutes, and write. If you find yourself struggling through it and wanting it to be over, let yourself stop. But, you may find that, hours later, you have a whole chapter written.  

Tip #3

Keep Track

We’ve all seen inconsistencies in tv, movie, and novel plots. A character’s age may change, their hair color might vary, or a quirk you’ve given them may disappear. 

To keep everything consistent and avoid any of these common oversights, you should keep track of the small details of your characters and world from the beginning. Whether it be in a story bible or on a scrap piece of paper, having a list of every character’s personality, quirks, age, height, etc., can save a lot of stress when you write about a character that only appeared at the beginning. Instead of re-reading and searching for what you said their favorite food was, you will have that and more easily accessible.

Here’s a list of things I Recommend Tracking:

Each character’s personality (main points like introverted/extroverted, materialistic, jokester, etc.)

Character’s appearance (height, build, hair color, eye color, etc.)

Locations and descriptions (main character’s house, just any place that your characters frequent)

World Building (when writing sci-fi or fantasy) like any rules that your world follows (like the people in your world are magical and can use spells, but only at night, etc.)

Tip #4

Don’t Start at the Beginning

I’m sure you understand the struggle of the introduction. Think back to a book-report you had to write in English class. You probably spent the majority of the time just on the first paragraph. 

Because the first paragraph is arguably the most important, I find starting on the second chapter, second page, or even second sentence can make all the difference. Not only is it easier to start, but once you do go back to page one, you will find yourself to be much more comfortable writing it.

Tip #5

Use Other Resources & Don’t Be Afraid to Fail

If you’ve been mulling over a sentence and can’t quite figure out how to word it, try using a program like Grammarly to help. Or, you can ask someone for their opinion. 

Having someone read over what you’ve written can help you see mistakes that you didn’t.

Also, if you have a unique idea, try it out. Don’t automatically dismiss it because it’s not the “right way.”

Now you are ready to write! Don’t forget to share this post, and feel free to comment with any questions you have. Also, be sure to join Along We Write’s mailing list to get exclusive content and update.

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