Hey guys! So as you many know if you're following me on Instagram, I LOVE writing. I'm working on my 6th fanfiction, Between the Lines, and I have another one coming called Red and Black. So I thought I'd share a few tips with you guys :)
If you're writing a fanfiction, of course the characters are going to be from whatever book, movie, show, band, etc. that you're writing it about, and the plot will have to be tied in somehow. But if you're writing a book, play, or screenplay, then I cannot stress enough how important it is to use original ideas. Don't rip it off of someone else. It's okay to use other stories for inspiration, but don't use the same names. Also, don't use the same plot with different names. Not only is it annoying, but if it ends up getting published, you can get in big trouble for copyright.
~Do your research!
This is especially important if the story is set in a real time and/or place. Make sure you know about your setting before writing anything down. For example, I'm going to start a book soon that's set in Disney World and focuses a lot on the parks, backstage, and Walt Disney's life. I already have more knowledge of Disney than a 15-year-old girl living hours away should have, but I also need to do research to make it completely accurate.
~Use good grammar!
Oh my gosh. This is the most important thing ever when writing. Dont tlk lyke dis. 0r +h!5. Or This. Or ThIs. Or this!!!!!!1!1 Or this!!!!!!!!!!! Or thissss. Or this :) Or ;this. Okay? Use the correct forms of words, especially to, too, two, their, there, they're, your, you're, principal, principle, bare, bear, compliment, complement, capital, and Capitol. Don't use abbreviations (OMG, LOL, BRB, G2G, etc.) unless you're trying to make it look like a text message or email, or if a character is using the abbreviations in their dialogue or thoughts. Contractions are okay if a character is speaking, and they're alright occasionally in the text, but not too much, especially if the story is in third person. It's ALWAYS "okay," never "ok." For numbers, if the number is less than twenty or if you can say it quickly out loud (Forty, seven hundred, a thousand, etc.), spell it out. If not, you can use the actual number symbols. Use correct punctuation. Don't use run-on sentences. If you have parentheses at the end of a sentence, the punctuation goes after the parentheses (like this). Only use capital letters where they're supposed to go. Whatever You Do, Don't Do This. The punctuation with a quote goes inside the quotation marks, "like this." If there's dialogue, make sure you have the proper punctuation. If the sentence continues after the quote, use a comma. If not, use a period. If it's an exclamation or question, use an exclamation point or a question mark either way. For example: "Hello," she greeted. "Hello." I turned around at the sound of her voice. "Hello!" she shouted. "Hello!" I saw her running toward me. "Hello?" she called. "Hello?" She pressed her shoulder to her ear, holding the phone there.
This is especially important with words like "said," "went," "good," and "bad." There are plenty of other words you can use. Use a thesaurus or thesaurus.com if you can't think of anything.
Some synonyms for "said:"
Some synonyms for "went:"
Some synonyms for "good:"
Some synonyms for "bad:"
People get tired of hearing cliche words used over and over. They're alright in moderation (For example, a character is just having a normal conversation and you don't know exactly how to describe their tone, so you say they "said" it), but don't overuse them.
~Have a catchy title and hook!
Let's be honest. No one wants to read a book called "My Life Story," especially it starts off with, "Hello. My name is Lily. I'm fifteen years old. I have brown hair and green eyes. I live in Florida. I have two brothers. I used to have a fish but he died." The story could be amazing after that, but it won't matter because you got off to a bad start. In all my English and language arts classes, we were taught to show, not tell. It's true. Here's the same story, but different.
My head tilted up, my chocolate hair falling in front of my emerald eyes. Ten of my fifteen years had been spent at home with my parents and a pair of brothers. But after I had found Fin floating on his side on that fateful morning five years ago, I was sent here, somewhere in the middle of nowhere in the Sunshine State. I wasn't crazy. They were wrong. But there was nothing I could do. I slowly stood, using the padded wall for support. After five years of waiting, the doctor was ready to see me.
See? Isn't that much better? After the first one, I could have gone into the story of how my character had been institutionalized because of her fish's death, but it wouldn't have seemed as good because there was no purpose to the introduction and the title didn't draw anyone in.
~Pick a pace and stick to it!
If you're writing an action novel that's meant to keep readers on the edge of their seats, keep it going! Don't slow down. Your character can't be getting chased by the police one minute and openly greeting their friend on the street the next. They don't want to get caught. Keep the pace up. Likewise, if the pace is meant to be slow and steady, keep it that way. Normally quick-moving plots work better. though. It's okay to have a slow-moving beginning if it draws readers in, but eventually it should pick up and then stay that way.
~Don't have anything that isn't necessary!
Okay, so romance can work in pretty much any story, no matter what it's about. But beyond that, don't have something just randomly pop up and go away. Sure, it makes it more realistic, but it can also bring down the quality. Don't write a story about a girl whose life is dedicated to theater and then just randomly have a scene about her math class, unless what happens in her math class contributes to the plot. For example, in Kingdom Keepers V, the scene in Philby and Willa's history class would be completely unnecessary, but the slideshow includes the Minotaur and Camazotz. That makes it a useful plot point.
That's all for now! If you have anything to contribute, please leave a comment! Thank you!