Basic research and plot development
Write about what you know. This is a very important factor, because if you do not know your characters, it will show in your writing. What you do not know, or are not sure about…research! A well-researched story is a happy one. There are too many stories out there on the net, which fall down on their lack of believability. Research may seem tedious, but if you take pride in what you write, the result will be worth it.
Remember, if you are writing for the Phantom of the Opera genre, a good knowledge and understanding of the social times of what the people were like, the boundaries, the living conditions, even down to what they wore are all important. Writing an historical fiction is a lot more challenging than writing a modern day fiction. Therefore, the next thing you should consider is dialogue…
You must understand your characters and get their voices to write convincing dialogue. The whole way of speaking and thinking were different. There is nothing that will make a reader cringe more than reading “Coz and Soz” in the characters dialogue. Net speak is a big turn off. If you are not sure of a word and its meaning, there is always a dictionary or word J to help.
Write from the heart. Imagine yourself as the characters you are writing. Personal experiences can help. For example, we have all felt fear, rejection, and pain. Use those experiences to write. If there is feeling in what you write, others will feel it too. Personally, I know there is nothing more rewarding as a fanfic writer than having someone tell you that they read your story and it made them feel.
When you have decided you would like to try to write a story, you should at least have a basic idea of how you want the story to go. I often have my ending worked out long before the middle. You do not have to be a slave to your plotline though. Ideas and situations may come up during the process of writing that will add to the story. I try to stick to my basic idea when I start a new story, sometimes they become something very different from what I first imagined, but as I said before, I think it is very important to have an end in sight.
Write convincing original characters. When writing original characters into your story, you have to be very careful not to fall into the Mary Sue pitfall. For those not familiar with the term Mary Sue, it is where the author self inserts him/herself into the story. Wish fulfilment. A Mary Sue can often be identified as being more beautiful and talented than the heroine/hero of the story. Stories written like this will often leave the author open to ridicule and are best avoided.
So if writing an original character into the story, you may find that you often need to, if your main characters find themselves in new places and situations. A couple of important things to remember are:
DO NOT NAME YOUR CHARACTER AFTER YOURSELF. DO NOT NAME YOURSELF AFTER YOUR CHARACTER. DO NOT MAKE THEM MORE TALENTED THAN YOUR MAIN CHARACTERS.
Structure and Beta’ing
How your story is set out is important too. At all times, consider the ease of the person who has to read it. Stories that are set out in huge block paragraphs are a big turn off. If I come across a story that is formatted in such a way, I will not read it. Make each paragraph no longer than seven lines at the most. Start a new line for each person that talks, rather than lumping lots of text together with dialogue.
This passage is for example purposes only, is from my fanfic “Past the Point of no return”, and is a short dialogue between Madame Giry and Erik.
“If not for Christine’s sake then for your own…if the Vicomte knew you were here, he would demand satisfaction and no one would win, no matter what the outcome. Christine cares for you both. Can you not be content with that?” she pleaded.
“Madame, I will not leave here, please do not come to me again,” he looked at her levelly. “I find my patience wearing thin,” He smiled as he registered the flicker of fear in her eyes.
“Have a care Erik, the Vicomte is far more dangerous than he appears,” She sighed before leaving him.
As you can see it is a lot easier to read dialogue between the characters if set out with a new line for each person. I am by far not the perfect person when it comes to grammar and punctuation, but it helps to have at least a basic knowledge of it. Long running sentences will not give the reader time to breathe.
Using italics in a story can be a good way to convey that the character is thinking a part of the story and that you are reading their thoughts.
Last and certainly, by no means least…the grey area. The beta. I have had betas in the past. Now I do not use one, but I do consult people on aspects of my writing. I think a beta is very important for you, especially when you are first starting out as a writer. If you know that dialogue/spelling and grammar are not your strong points, then get the help of a reliable beta. It is better to have your story ripped to shreds by one person, before putting out on the net, than to have it exposed to everyone. A beta is someone who should be able to appraise your work with absolute honesty for the partnership to work.
I hope I have not scared you off from writing. Good luck!
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