Eleven Rules For Writing Fiction

Before learning about characters and craft, there’s one BIG writing obstacle to overcome.

That’s right: I’m talking about the “get-your-ass-in-the-chair-and-write-already” obstacle.

Many writers, myself included, have a certain knack for not writing. We have no time, we have writer’s block, we can’t find the right words, that floor needs scrubbing, there are important YouTube videos to watch — the list of excuses goes on.

Here’s a few of my thoughts on how to keep the writing juices flowing….

11 Rules For Writing Fiction

  1. Name it!
    If I don’t have a title, I don’t know what the story’s about. I don’t own it, I don’t know where it’s going or why it needs to go there. Give your story a name. Give it an identity.

  2. Write.
    Don’t wait for some mythical moment of inspiration. Set yourself a schedule–half an hour every morning, Monday nights, every day from 4-4:15pm. Stick to it. If you must, write about not knowing what to write, until a better idea comes.

  3. Keep writing.
    Don’t let Google tempt you away. You know that 2-minute research for the perfect word or fact will turn into an hour-long YouTube session. If you’re stuck for a word, type BLA and keep going. Seriously, it’s what I do.

  4. Stop writing…
    …halfway through a scene or a sentence. Especially one of those delicious climax-type ones. The next time I sit down to write, I re-read a little of the scene and my muse goes into overdrive–it is far easier than starting with a blank page.

  5. Write what you want.
    Not what you think will sell. Not a copy of the latest bestseller (unless that’s what you want to write…). Find out what stories and problems matter to YOU, and your conviction will breathe life into your work.

  6. Don’t panic.
    Writer’s block? Think your story’s a failure? Stay calm, keep writing. A little bit of anxiety is good. Too much will stifle you. You can always fix things when you edit.

  7. Do procrastinate.
    (On occasion.) It’d good for you. But pick your activities carefully: stick to wordless, rhythmic activities like going for a long walk along, cleaning, etc. By not speaking or reading, you’ll find yourself back to writing sooner than expected.

  8. Have more than one idea on the go.
    When you hit the mid-story “OMG this story is crap why did I ever start it!?” slump, just switch to working on the other project until you calm down. Most people dislike their story at one point; it’s normal.

  9. Excercise!
    Nothing will distract you from writing more than back ache, neck ache, eye ache, headache… Unfold yourself from that seat and stretch a muscle or two.

  10. Avoid lists like this one.
    Seriously. You’ll end up spending the entire afternoon writing this list, instead of the #fridayflash you were MEANT to be writing. Ahem. Or you’ll end up reading this instead of writing. Sound familiar?

  11. Lastly…
    Well you’ve read this far. Give me a hand: what’s your eleventh rule for writing fiction?

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15 thoughts on “Eleven Rules For Writing Fiction

  1. Some great advice here! Thank you :)
    My 11th rule would be…. Don’t take yourself too seriously: Know when to laugh at yourself, know when to take criticism, know that all you’re doing is playing with words.
    I’m still learning this for myself. But it does help when I remember!

  2. 11th rule is there are no rules… and always procrastinate… lol… and lament your woes… you’re not good enough etc… get a good rant up and going… alway your thoughts to flow in no order …

  3. My rule #11 is not to worry about the first draft. Just write. Sure, it’s gonna suck, but who will ever know? I’ll fix is later. The most important thing to do is get the story down.

    • Amen! I used to always try get things perfect the first time until I realised: editing and rewriting really DOES work. And it’s a heck of a lot quicker to do once the story’s down.

  4. I’d make my 11th rule: keep your writing buddy close – there is nothing like having a vent to your writing buddy when things just don’t seem to be working, Mine, without fail, manages to shake me free from the brain fog/irritation/depression/angst that inevitably hits all writers at one point or another.

    • I generally send a long complaining email to MCM about how everything I am doing is rubbish and then he writes back and says something silly like “Why don’t you try adding WORMS?” and somehow his silly suggestion shakes me out of things. :-)

  5. Pingback: Eleven Rules For Editing Fiction | A.M. Harte

  6. Get a cat. Cats help with writing and will helpfully sit on your keyboard when you feel the urge to go on YouTube.

  7. Pingback: My Top 9 Writing Posts | A.M. Harte

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