Rachel Thompson

Kathleen Shoop – How To Write Fiction & Become a Better Writer

How to Write Fiction & Become a Better Writer

by Kathleen Shoop

In thinking about how to write fiction and become a better writer, I think the most important thing is to study. One type of studying that’s valuable is to collect examples of writing you love. Pull together a pile of romances that make you swoon, thrillers that have you checking every closet before bedtime, historical fiction that forces you to google a certain era just because you have to know more about it. Then, take a closer look, pull apart a section of a book where the author brings setting to life, makes characters walk off the page, or twists a plot so tight you can’t put the book down until you finish it.

Study every little bit of what works and what doesn’t work. Then take a deep breath and go write your own story. After you get a draft written, study your own work in the same way you did the pros. What are you trying to do? Why isn’t it working? Where is it working? Duplicate the valuable stuff and make it develop the way you want it to, not the way someone else wants to see the story progress…unless you’re totally off base—in that case, find beta-readers you trust so you know whether you’re off base or it’s just a matter of preference. Not always a very clear answer!!

So, try these tips to make yourself a stronger writer:

1. Write two hours a day no matter what,

2. Give your work to trusted readers and LISTEN to them.

3. Talk with readers about which components of their feedback need to be applied and which go against the goal of the book.

4. Read work that’s similar to yours and that sells very well (yes, pick the book you know yours is better than even though that book is flying off the shelves). What is the author doing that makes her work so irresistible? Don’t dismiss a bestseller as crap that only dumb, mindless people read and so it’s not valuable. There is value in every bestselling book and it’s a writer’s job to know what that value is. Is there some element of this book that should influence your writing? Even if the answer is “hell no,” you should know exactly why that’s the answer.

5. Read work that you don’t necessarily love but is beautiful and well done in the eyes of others. Yes, pick something the highbrow folks have ordained as great. Choose a classic or a type of writing that the world is inhaling even if you aren’t. Again, there’s huge value in work like that…study what this author does to garner such high praise—is there any part of it that would deepen your own work?

6. Meditate with Madhu Wangu’s mp3 called Meditations for Mindful Writers—it will transform your writing process and you will write more and more layered stories, you will learn to access your voice every time you sit down to work.

7. Observe everything around you and note the stuff that moves you.

8. Take breaks from thinking about your work—the answers that were evading you will show up when you least expect it.

9. Finish a book and do something with it—submit to agents, publish, whatever, but move on…

10. Study more and write the next one.

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Genre – Women’s Fiction

Rating – PG15

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