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My Secrets to Fiction Excellence

Author Annette Youngby Annette Young

If you are looking for the secrets to writing good fiction, it’s all about expanding the mind and utilising the experiences within. Fiction has to be based in realism even if the fabrics of the story are borne from your imagination. Sometimes, it’s about breaking the rules and letting your imagination take over, it’s about taking risks, learning and anticipating the techniques that work and those that don’t.

I knew that I wanted to be a writer from the time that I could pick up a book. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write and my brain was constantly overflowing with ideas. During my younger years, I wasn’t thinking that each piece of writing would be published, I knew I had to bring my words to life and I was never satisfied with the work completed.

As I grew older, I learned the joys of research, settling into a comfy chair and curling up with a never ending stream of good books. I began to analyse what worked and what didn’t. I learned a lot. We all have our preferences when it comes to reading or writing and for me, nothing beats a good murder mystery or an intense psychological thriller, (blame my counselling background for the latter) but it’s a good idea to step outside of your chosen niche sometimes and to dissect and inwardly digest a variety of techniques.

When I seriously began writing, I tried to put all my knowledge into a practical application and then realised, you just can’t or shouldn’t, emulate someone else’s voice, it’s theirs alone, yet you can still learn from other published authors, using their ideas, their words and techniques as a springboard. Developing your own voice is essential.  Once this falls into place, writing becomes even more enjoyable, it becomes a gift.

I have always been a people-watcher. We are all so fascinating and the fact that people are inherently flawed, this is a wonderful resource to the fiction writer and I absolutely revelled in creating characters that are so deep they are almost  unfathomable.

There is no doubt that real life provides a never-ending source of inspiration. From the nosy, curtain twitching neighbour to the desperate for attention woman or the quiet, surly individual that lurks on the edge of society and who never reveals much, yet deep inside, there are murky, secretive depths to them all.

In fiction, you have to understand the human condition and embrace it, utilising it throughout. Characters can drive a story forward by their actions and desires and snippets of information should be revealed little by little but it’s important to never give too much away.

Writing fiction is akin to playing God. You create, you tease, you explore possibilities, you design events, tragedies, mysteries, drama, chance meetings, love and passion and then, can whisk it all away in a whim. It’s good to make your characters suffer, let them experience the highs and lows of reality, use your own experiences as a starting point and then let the fictional senses take over. It’s important that the reader gleans much through the actions of those characters rather than you laying it all on the line.

There are many secrets to writing good fiction, but enjoyment of the writing process is paramount. Think about it, do you give a piece of yourself every time you write? You should. If the character cries, feels alone and desperate, you need to share those emotions as deeply. Feel it, live it, write it.

The world doesn’t stand still and neither does your story. Your characters must evolve as the plot develops and changes. This fluidity can be appealing, a reader can recognise confident writing and mastery of the written word. Build tension, suspicion and doubts, make the reader think, wrap up your story in an evocative guise, allow the readers to be enveloped in the richness of glorious multi-coloured content, then let in darkness and shade when you need the reader to feel the starkness of your words and the futility of the characters plight. Evoke the senses of all who read your words and provide pure escapism irrespective of genre.

These are some of my secrets to fiction excellence. Over the years they have become an integral part of me and I keep these techniques firmly at the fore, ready for when I need to tap into them. When you understand people, when you are not afraid to dig deep and to lay your own emotions bare and when you write for the sheer love of it, the power of the written word becomes a tangible force.

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