Writing Tip #3 for Fiction

As with any writing really, planning is futile unless you know what over all message you want to convey to your readers. I’m not talking about generally either. The #3 tip I teach in my writing course is what do you want to say?

Sometimes, the hardest thing in life comes down to speaking your truth. So, as a writer, a teller of information, you instinctively have a lot to say. That’s all well and good, mind you, unless you are stuck in the mud of what exactly you mean to say. Knowing your message, from the very beginning, helps move along all of the other elements of creating.

For example, when I wrote my very first book, I knew who it was for and the character who was leading the story. After I began to understand who my character was, and everything that made her the woman that she was, I realized that the message I was going to write about was mistakes, and how they shape the people we become. I did the work of tip #1 and tip #2 which then led me to this.

Once I had that, I had everything I needed to let my character go and help me create elements of my outline. Every single part of my story resonated with what I wanted to say. There was no question at the end of the story, when she met her fate, what I’d done there.

Now, reading this article, I will say, I can hear a select few of you snickering that I make it seem too easy. You, my friend, are over thinking this process. We each have the most unique ability to over extend out opinions, which is exactly a way of looking at this lesson. You should sit and actually listen to what you are saying, mentally and verbally, because the messages you convey in your daily life tend to bleed through the pages of whatever WIP you are focusing on.

Tell me, if you could write a book about anything that is on your mind, right at this moment, what would it be? What message do you feel you need to share with the world? Who knows, if you are an aspiring artist, this might just be the reason you are reading this post.

Writing Tip for Fiction #2

Funny thing about fiction is that everyone has a different take on what a fictional story-line should include but you see, the problem is that one’s imagination is like a thumbprint. No one will ever see what you see, even if they are looking at the same thing. Such is the same with fiction. As a reader, a fictional story never impacts you the same way it does another, even though you’ve read the same text.

I’ve often wondered, how many different books can you find that have ever been written with a hero’s journey? Same thing with a world built surrounding a damsel in distress? At some point, I feel that books will become like music. Someone will take a classic and retell it in their own manner…the modern day fan fiction will be how fiction will spring tv viewers back into the word world, but you see, it’s the unique approach that makes the difference, that make curiosity the hold.

My second, most important piece of teaching that I focus on in my coaching course is why it’s important to write for yourself. Let me say, there’s a lot to be taught, as far as elements are concerned, that go between my first tip and this one. I find that if you’re not planning on making your book something you yourself are going to want to read, then what’s the point. I’ve learned, the hard way in fact, that when you sit down to write a book, it’s because you feel a pull from within to express a piece of your soul. The story may be fictional, but I will tell you, it is yours. It’s coming from the very depths of your sub-conscious mind. When you can close your eyes and see the very character’s doing everything you are about to write….that is dreaming in broad daylight.

When a person can do that, take those images, and make it into literal actions on paper, well my friend, you’ve become a sort of alchemist and that is a genuine gift. I question you at this point, why would you write something that someone is telling you to write versus writing something that literally comes from you naturally?

I’ve fought this battle before, sitting for hours in front of my laptop screen writing shit because a friend of mine wanted me to write about something specific that wasn’t actually resonating with me. I call it shit because it turned out boring and stale. I couldn’t even read it to know if it was riddled with mistakes but I knew deep down that there was no life to it. The hard truth, that comes with being a story teller, is that you may write the most incredible story that the world will ever hold but there will always be someone on this plane of existence that won’t enjoy your work….and that’s okay! But don’t you dare think that you will find peace with writing something that doesn’t come from your heart.

These books, they become your children. They are more than art, they are creation. When you look back on them, their physical existence will be filled with emotions rather then actually knowing what’s inside. When you write for yourself, you’ll always be able to pick up one of your own works and flip to your very favorite page and feel exactly the emotions you felt when you originally wrote the words. That doesn’t change over time.

Anyhow, my point is, if any of these tips come to mean something to those I am reaching, remember that being true to what you are imagining is the most important part of getting it all out there. Write for you, because if you’re writing for yourself, your feelings won’t hurt when someone writes a review you don’t agree with on Amazon or Goodreads.

Writing Tip #1 for Fiction

So, in honor of having to start my website from scratch, I will begin offering some tips that I share in my writing coaching courses that I offer on this website.

Let’s get right to it! To me, one of the most important parts of writing any fictional story is getting to know your main character. While wanting to develop the outline and setting is quite appealing as a starting point, I fully believe that those just won’t get the job done. When you imagine a fictional story-line, it always revolves around a main character, your ‘MC’.

This fictional person is dancing around (maybe not literally) in your mind for quite some time before you actually put any words to a document about what your story is about, either it be a physical journal or a digital document. Your MC will become more real when you actually stop to get to know them. While silly as it may seem, it’s easiest if you participate in a little routine I teach my students.

I like to call it my writing meditation practice. Mostly because you place yourself in a quiet space, close your eyes, and take several calming breaths before anything actually happens. Before even doing any of that, I like to ask myself a question, best if done out loud – “who are you?” and this is referring to who my character is that I am about to see in my minds eye.

Once I’ve quieted my mind, I allow myself to imagine my character, to see them in an empty plane of space. Usually, because I’ve asked who they are, I will find myself in a back and forth little interview with them asking dozens of questions. Depending on the story, these questions could vary from:

  1. when were you born?
  2. where were you born?
  3. who are your parents?
  4. do you have any siblings?
  5. how old are you?
  6. where do you currently live? have you always lived there?
  7. do you have a best friend? what are they like?
  8. do you have a nemesis? why are they your polar opposite?
  9. are you a good person or someone with questionable morals?
  10. are you a happy person? what is your happiest memory?
  11. what is your saddest memory?
  12. what do you think your weakness is?
  13. what do you think your strength is?
  14. what do you feel your life purpose is?
  15. do you have a job? or are you dependent of someone?

So on and so forth!

Once I’ve gone through the being nosy phase and I’ve become friends with my MC, I tend to let them grab my hand and show me a day in their world. This is where I focus on their appearance and the little details that make up their physical being. The way they carry themselves, the way they smile at something funny, the creases on their brow if something confuses them or worries them. These are all very important to pay attention to because as you’re writing you want the reader to pick up on the little things that paint a vivid picture in their mind as they are reading.

Of course, one sitting of this activity might not be enough to gather enough information you’d need to start an outline. You might even feel so successful with the practice that you want to do it with multiple characters you plan on including in your story before creating that pesky outline.

When I open my eyes and pick up my pen, I write as much about them that I found useful. I don’t start writing until I’ve completed my interactions with them because it breaks up your concentration. I’ve tried it both ways and was able to gain more knowledge about my MC when I gave them as much of my time uninterrupted as possible. It’s like playing with a child that starts telling you a tale that feels like its never ending but I promise you, your main character will stop at some point and leave you be.

This is the very first thing I do when I feel a story tugging on my brain. It’s also the practice I’ve used for every one of my manuscripts. Be patient with yourself when you start, the trick is to be open to the idea that your character may be fictional but your imagination doesn’t really understand that. That’s a science thing 🙂

Thanks for visiting my first tip guys! If you want to get more, make sure to subscribe below so that you receive them as soon as they are posted. Feel free to comment if you’ve tried this and let me know what you experienced!


Anew!

I’ve had this website since the very start of my writing career. From the moment my first novel was published I created aprilgutierrez.com. It is one of the reasons I haven’t changed my domain name because I still use April Gutierrez as my Adult Genre pen name.

This morning, as I tried to update my site to create a special sale item, I was immediately logged out. Mind you, 2020 has been one for the books with odd things happenings so I took on my usual tech support persona. Needless to say, a thought crossed my mind that maybe this was (is) the Universe’s way of forcing me to evaluate the importance of my writing career in my life.

Can we say, Wake Up Call! Every inner alarm was sounding as I couldn’t access 12 years worth of work on this page. Fine, it’s not like a website can’t be remade. It’s not like starting from scratch is a bad thing. All in all, I know that the glitch was meant to make me Wake Up to what I have been ignoring for over 2 years now. Writing is my life purpose. It’s what I came here to do, to share with humanity. It’s why I can sit and hear the characters as they go on about their imaginary lives until I’ve had a chance to sit and write about them and their journey.

When that sort of realization hits you, like it did to me today, so many other factor come straight to the forefront. For me, the most glaring was, “what’s stopping you?” and the answer to that is: Not a damn thing!

At this point, after getting my site back and having to change a few things around, I feel like a huge weight has been lifted and I’m not talking about the realization that I didn’t lose 12 years of my journey. No, the weight is the realization that every author’s journey is different and I should never compare myself to anyone else’s path.

Thank you for visiting, don’t forget to check out my bookstore. All purchases through my store have free shipping.