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!

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