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TSS #008: 11 Ways to Give Your Fiction Writing an Unfair Advantage

Jul 16, 2022

Read Time: 3 minutes

Want to write stories that make readers lose sleep?

The kind of stories that earn you five-star reviews, book awards, and best-seller status?

Well, I’ve got news for you.

Because if you haven’t yet figured it out… writing fiction can be a real pain in the azz.

So you need every trick you can muster to craft a story that turns readers into fans. 

Get ahead of the pack by applying these bite-sized tips when developing your work-in-progress:

1. Adore your story

Either love your plot and characters all the way or leave them. Because the story that always fills your heart is the one that will actually get finished.

2. Create curiosity

String readers along like a cold-hearted girl leading on a clueless dude. If readers aren’t wondering what happens next, you’ve said too much.

Give readers just enough to always want more.

3. Build deep & dark backstories

Develop a hero full of dark truths, mistakes, and flaws. Give your villain a moral compass and empathetic history.

Perfectly good or evil characters are unrealistic. So you must create remarkable roles to avoid tropes and compel readers believe in your make-believe.

4. (KISS) Keep It Simple Storyteller

Break up huge blocks of text with short paragraphs or simple dialogue to make pages less intimidating. Treat your readers like kids even if you’re writing for adults.

Assess readability using an app like Hemingway and shoot for grade 6 or lower.

5. Start a timer

Not for your writing sessions, but for when to reach small and large goals.

Create your core characters in 30 days. Outline your story in 60 days. Write your first draft in 4 months.

If you don’t plot a course to finish, the wheel of time will never stop turning.

6. Respect story structure

Embrace the timeless storytelling principles helping writers connect with readers every day.

You can still use it to write by the seat of your pants. But readers intuitively know how stories should flow so they want you to give them a narrative pace they expect.

7. Write in active voice

Passive voice sends readers back in time. People want to feel like stuff is happening right now.

Help your readers be in the moment, not the past.

8. Write, don’t research

During writing sessions, use a rare or made-up keyword to mark locations you need to later research, then continue writing.

Later, when it’s actually time to research, just hit CTL/CMD F and type your keyword. I use “Roker.”

9. Enter the feedback loop

Receiving feedback is a fast-track to improving your fiction.

Better yet, giving feedback helps you realize what works in stories including your own. Then ride the feedback loop over and over to accelerate your learning curve.

10. Kill your darlings

If a beloved character no longer fits into your story, delete them or recast them. If a death serves the plot, execute characters without mercy.

Be a ruthless writer willing to do anything that repairs or resolves your story arcs.

11. Copy other authors

Love an author’s work? Practice copying a chapter or two to study their approach to writing or scene building.

Obviously never republish any of their stuff, but practice always improves potential. Plus you may get inspired in the process.

That’s it for this Saturday.

If found value in this post, would you consider sharing it? Maybe you’ll be helping someone create the story they’ve always wanted to write.

See ya next week!

— David

P.S. Whenever you’re ready… I’m still offering free 30 minute story coaching sessions… so let’s connect and create a cohesive story for your fiction.