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Fictional Writing

Fictional Writing 101: How to Make Your Characters Believable

Believable characters can make a lasting impact to readers and make a story much better. Unless your characters are believable and relatable, your audience will not find your work interesting. So how do you actually breathe life into your fictional characters? Here are some tips in creating believable characters.

  1. Observe different people.

By observing different kinds of people, you will have some ideas for the personalities and traits that you can integrate into your character. Take note of how people speak, behave, do their mannerisms, stutter, express themselves, and what verbal fillers they use. From these observations, you can choose which ones to incorporate—in short, imitate real people to make your characters seem real.

  1. Play with their personalities and characteristics.

If you want to make your characters realistic, you should never categorize them into purely “black” or “white”. By this I mean you should not make your protagonists all good, and your antagonists absolutely evil. Make them multidimensional—add layers into their personality. This is what will make them more appealing and bring a significant impact to your audience.

Play with their personalities—make them complex individuals and even add what seems like contradictions. For instance, your evil antagonist who beats the crap out of people and can kill mercilessly is extremely affectionate with animals.

On the other hand, your main protagonists must also have weaknesses and faults. Let them fail and allow the villains to win occasionally. This will stir up your readers’ minds and emotions. Moreover, this will also make your story less predictable and much more interesting.

  1. Establish individuality.

Just like in real life, people are different from one another. With this, if you want to make your characters realistic and recognizable, establish individuality and uniqueness. This will make your characters more alive.

Make sure that they are very different from one another—they have distinct voices, varying points of view, as well as beliefs and principles. For example, if one of your characters is a crackhead teenager and another one is a respected middle-aged professor, but the two thinks the same and have the same manner of speaking, you are definitely doing it wrong. If necessary, don’t hesitate to make multiple revisions to ensure this.

Making your characters believable and interesting may seem like a challenging task at first. However, by performing the strategies I shared in this article, you will surely be able to do this much easier and more effectively. Always keep in mind that no matter how awesome your idea for your plot is, you won’t be able to execute it properly without great characters. Furthermore, your readers won’t stay interested if the characters are not multidimensional and believable.

Top Tips in Writing Fiction

writing fiction

If you are planning to write fiction for the first time and find the task overwhelming, getting some tips from more experienced writers may do the trick. In this article, I will give you some useful pieces of advice on fictional writing to help you get started.

Know your audience.

By identifying for whom are you writing your fictional story for and trying to understand them, you’ll definitely be able to write a better story. Accept the fact that not everyone will appreciate your work, and keep in mind that what you should focus on is to appeal to your target audience.

Identify the demographics of your target audience such as their age group and gender to be able to discern what elements should be added into your fictional story for it to become more interesting.

Develop realistic characters.

Perfect characters are boring. Make them realistic and relatable for your characters to appeal to your readers. Develop interesting personalities, give them phobias, and add flaws.

Moreover, as your story progresses, make sure that your characters evolve. Just as how real people change with each event in their life, your fictional characters must also undergo this development process.

Put your characters in certain circumstances that will force them to make a difficult decision, and decide when they should make the right choice or the wrong one. Keep in mind that if your characters are not developing and they are just static, they would not make a huge impact on your readers.

Try to stick to your main plot.

One of the most common mistakes made by fiction writers is that they get too caught up with the subplots that do not actually help with the development of the characters and the story itself.

Try to focus and stick to your main plot. However, if you decide to include subplots that will spice up your piece, ensure that they are all connected to the main plot, have a real impact on your characters’ evolution, and support your story’s progression.

Allow the events to play out.

Don’t try to wrap up each event too quickly, almost like you’re rushing to get to the end. Most often in real life, you don’t get to a certain goal that easily. Hence, you should let every circumstance to play out. By doing this, you will also be able to keep your readers hooked with your work and encourage them to keep reading. An additional advice is to add nice cliffhangers at the end of your chapters.

Develop powerful conflicts in different parts of your story.

The conflicts in the story are what make people excited and interested with what happens next. Naturally, if there is a conflict, you will get excited about what the outcome will be and how this will affect the characters. Hence, a weak conflict will just leave your characters where they were at the beginning of the story and will not give them room to grow.

As a beginner, you may feel that fictional writing is a daunting task. However, by reading and practicing constantly, you will surely get the hang of it. Before you know it, you’ve already produced various fictional stories. Trust me, fictional writing is a rewarding endeavour that is definitely worth pursuing. So don’t ever stop and strive to become a great writer—you’ll get there!

4 major differences between fiction and non-fiction writing

In simple terms, fiction is something imaginary and non-fiction is something that’s true. In non-fiction writing, real people and real places are involved. On the other hand, in fiction stories, everything is from the writer’s imagination. Here are some major differences between the two types of writing.

Fiction is made up, non-fiction is fact

Fiction stories are all made up. All the characters and places come from the authors’ imagination. Non-fiction writing, on the other hand, is fact-based and informative. Fiction books are written for entertaining readers and the non-fiction books are written to give more knowledge to the readers. Examples of fictions are novels, short stories, etc. History books, autobiography, etc. are non-fictions.

Fiction is more elaborate

In fiction, the writer can go along with his or her imagination without any limit. They can elaborate on a plot or character as far as their imagination goes. In non-fiction, the writer has to be straight forward. There is no scope for any imagination. It is actually reallocation of facts.

Fiction can be interpreted in different ways

The story that is written by a fictional writer can be interpreted in various ways by the audience. But non-fiction writings are simple and direct. They can have only one interpretation.

Non-fiction writing needs references

In non-fiction writing, you may need to give references for your writing and include quotes to the story. This is needed to make your story or writing more credible. But in fiction writing, no such references are required.

These are the differences between fiction and non-fiction writing that you must remember. You should simply remember that fiction is imaginative and non-fiction is true. Fiction writing is fun to read and non-fiction writing is informative. So, next time when you read a book, you will be able to tell easily whether it’s fiction or non-fiction.

3 reasons you should read fiction books

Academic reading is important to do well on your exam, but you shouldn’t overlook the importance of reading fiction books. Many parents discourage their children from reading fiction books as they think it’s waste of time. But in reality, fiction books can benefit people in many ways.

It opens up your mind

Fiction is the author’s imagination. It also opens up the readers’ mind. You will read about different characters, places, and stories. You will become more creative. You will easily be able to come up with new ideas and have different perspectives about things.  Your cognitive function can improve by reading fiction books.

It makes you more compassionate

By reading fiction, people usually get swept away by the story. They start to get deeply involved with the character and they start to characterize with the main character. They go through various emotional experiences. Reading fiction will make you more compassionate.

Improves vocabulary

When you read lots of books your vocabulary improves. You will notice that your writing style has improved as well. The more you read books, the more your writing skills will improve. You will be able to express yourself better with new words.

Reading fiction develops your mind and writing skills. You will be able to perform better in your academic lessons and professional life as well. So, it is important to develop the habit of reading fictions in children. They will grow to become better performers in their lives.

Just Because You’re Not Offended Doesn’t Mean It’s Not Offensive

There’s been a huge controversy over three recent issues of the quarterly magazine of the Science Fiction Writers of America, The Bulletin. The debate began with issue #200, which used a vintage piece of Red Sonja artwork for its cover.

I think of myself as a quiet and reserved person and an introvert, so it was a little startling to be called a “social butterfly” as one acquaintance did in San Jose over the weekend. “You know absolutely everybody!” he said.

Well, it’s a fair cop. I’ve been in this business for sixteen years, and the set of pro sf writers in the field is basically a small town. There are several thousand of us, and of those a group of maybe 500 who are frequent or regular convention-attenders. After a while, you get to the point where you either know everybody, or are connected to everybody. I happen to think that this particular rotating group of connections and acquaintances are some of the best people in the world. If you parachute into the middle of an average, mid-sized midwestern city, you could spend all day wandering around looking for people as fascinating, smart, motivated, and dynamic as those who are just literally lying in your path at a well-attended SF lit convention. Why not enjoy it and make the most of it?

Why attend conventions at all? First of all, convention attendance is totally optional. You can be a successful writer without ever setting foot in one, and if you don’t like it, that’s well and good. You don’t have to attend. And it’s important to know this, because if you do go to a convention, it’s good to go with the attitude that it’s all optional and anything good that comes from it is just gravy.

That said, there are some very good reasons to go to conventions. Human interactions are crucial in any business, it doesn’t matter what kind. If you are someone who makes and sells shrubberies, you may be very successful as the only shrubber in your local market, but it’s still very nice to get together with other shrubbers to share experiences, seek support, and get new ideas. You might even find ways to work with other shrubbers to enhance your own business and make a little extra money together. Who knows? Anything can happen.

It can be paralyzing to go into a convention with the idea that you’re there to “do business.” Forget the elevator pitch. Don’t even think of it. Instead of worrying about making a good impression on people that will be useful in your career, form an expectation that you are just there to look around, and be curious about everyone who crosses your path. That person might be a famous writer or editor, but they might also be a radically cool fan. It doesn’t matter. Whatever serendipitous meetings occur, that is what is meant to be. Have fun, talk about your kids and pets and the weather and favorite movies, and let the business happen organically. And it will. Because trust is a basis of business interactions, and showing people pictures of your cat on your cell phone is how you build trust. Just do it.

Adjust your expectations. You are not going to go to a convention and walk out with a huge novel contract. Don’t even think about it. Put it out of your mind. You are just there to make friends. Do you like having friends in your day-to-day life? Friends are good. Humans need friends. You are just there to meet some people.

Also, if you are new to the scene and don’t know very many people, prepare yourself to spend some time alone. Bring books to read. Plan one or two solo sightseeing outings. If the hotel has a spa, make an appointment. Get comfortable with the idea of eating alone in a restaurant or bar. Bring a spouse or a partner if it makes you more comfortable, but don’t let that close you off to hanging out with new friends. If you and your companion form too tight a knot, no one else can get in.

Your goal should be to make one or two new friends at each convention. You can’t spend all of your time with that one new person, but over time things will snowball.

Sign up for things. If the convention offers any tours or workshops you can sign up for in advance, do it. You will meet people, and those people will be well-disposed to making new friends because of the situation. In a writing-oriented convention, whatever you’ve signed up for may have a pro running it, so you get to meet at least one professional in your field.

Volunteer for panels. If you have some professional credits, let the convention know you’re coming ahead of time and are willing to help out on programming. They are often very happy to have you, and may offer you free membership. Panels are also a good way to get used to public speaking, since the burden isn’t on one person to carry the entire show.

Connect with online friends. Look for opportunities to meet up with online friends. Check out parties, mixers, tweetups, and other organized get-togethers. Again, these are situations where people will be very open to meeting you and it will help you overcome your natural reserve.

Make plans in advance. If you do have someone you know will be at the con, make plans ahead of time. People have a way of getting busy, or getting tired, and you might miss them otherwise.

Bring a book. This is a trick I learned a number of years ago. I carry a book around at conventions. If I go to the hotel lobby looking for friends or new, interesting people to meet, and there’s no one I can immediately approach and begin chatting with, I’ll park myself at a table or the bar and read my book. The book itself is a conversation-starter, and at a science fiction convention, most people share your love of book-reading. You won’t get very many pages read before someone comes along and interrupts you.

Ask questions. Never have an awkward conversation again in your life. When pauses emerge, throw out a question. Where are you from? Have you seen the new Star Trek movie? Do you like cats? Don’t fill every silence. Let your new friend ask you some questions, too.

Fans are cool, too. As writers, we naturally gravitate to other writers. These people instantly get us. But don’t overlook the fans. Science fiction fans are very often extremely smart, successful, interesting people. And fans also have their own brand of power in the business. It’s fans who make decisions about programming and inviting guests of honor, etc., etc. If you make a good impression on the fans, you will definitely have a better time at conventions. BE NICE TO THE FANS.

Cut your losses. Everyone knows that conventions also attract…well…weirdos. People you don’t want to know or spend time with. In fact, this is one thing that tends to scare writers away from conventions, because if there are one or two of these types in a room, it can give you a bad impression of fandom in general. Practice some conversational dismounts to get you out of conversations you don’t want to be in. They can vary from, “Excuse me I need to visit the ladies’ room,” to “You are making me uncomfortable please leave me alone.” (And please carefully tune your dismount to the audience. No need to be cruel.) I’m sorry about this. I apologize on behalf of the whole genre. The important thing to remember is you don’t have to let someone monopolize your time if you don’t enjoy their company. You are at the convention to have fun!

You are not there to get laid. I mean, if you do get laid while you’re there, it’s great. But don’t treat the convention like a singles bar. This is a bit of a tough transition sometimes for writers who started as fans, because there is an element of con culture that is all about hooking up. And that’s great. But the writers by and large are NOT there to hook up. So what I’m saying is assess your social environment very carefully and only hit on people who are clearly available.

Allow extra days for travel, if you can. Arriving a day early and leaving a day late will make things much less stressful. Much. I particularly recommend the leaving a day late strategy. That last night at the con can be the very best, especially for shy folks, as you’ve had a day or two to gradually relax and start feeling comfortable with new people.

Schedule some downtime. I often treat myself to room service one night, which not only gives me some time to recharge, but takes the pressure off for one meal. No need to find dinner companions, choose a cuisine and restaurant, make an expedition, make scintillating conversation, etc.

Comfortable shoes. Need I say more?

Buy a banquet ticket. At some conventions, like Nebula weekend, you’ll have a chance for a sit-down meal with strangers. Go for it, even if it’s expensive. I met my friend Jay Lake that way. Every time I’ve done this it’s worked out great. Again, this is a situation where you’re automatically placed in a group, so no need to approach anyone or find a good opening line. You can just ask a question and you’re good to go.

Don’t get too wrapped up in status. If there’s one thing I’ve seen in sixteen years, it’s the coming and going of hot new writers. Trust me. Slow and steady wins the race. So there are hot new writers getting a lot of attention, collecting awards. They are just as anxious and insecure as you are, and often they sort of stop writing and disappear a few years later. Some of this year’s batch of superstars had me thinking of meteors from years past, wondering where they are, what they’re doing, are they still writing? Don’t sweat it. Honors, awards, accolades–all very capricious. Do you have some cat pictures on your phone? Whip them out. Cat pics are eternal.

Don’t be an asshole. You know how they say some people can do it and get away with it? They are not getting away with it. Trust me. Those people have lost friends and opportunities. It only looks like it doesn’t stick. Don’t be that person. It’s not worth it.

Don’t cart the internet around with you. If you’ve encountered someone on the internet and you’re meeting them for the first time in person, it is largely best to simply start over. If you’ve had extensive conversations online, then of course acknowledge it. But most people don’t have a perfect memory for every discussion or flame war, and, more importantly, if you set aside any charged interactions you may have had online, you may find the person is actually really cool.

Be authentic, be genuine, be sincere, be yourself. Have some faith that you are an interesting person and others want to know you. Wear what you want that makes you feel awesome. Be a good listener. Be forgiving of yourself and others. You’re not always going to say the right thing. You might make a faux pas, or someone around you might. Laugh it off. Let it go. Be gentle. Be kind. Make jokes. Buy drinks for people. Find ways to help.