This post is a bit different. I thought I’d create a fiction writing alphabetical advice list based off my experience as a writer, author, and publisher. Hope you find something of value.
Audience – It’s rare I hear authors talking about their audience, which is an important aspect to selling your book. Let your audience feel as if you wrote the book for them, and that comes from knowing who is going to read it. Don’t try to sell a romance novel to a thriller audience. All will suffer in the end.
Beta Readers – Target audience readers, who read a novel and provide feedback to the author regarding what works and doesn’t work for them. Beta readers and/or critique partners are invaluable in getting an outsiders point of view. Writers are too close to their characters and plot, so plot holes go unnoticed and/or a lack in character development.
Characters – Some types of genres rely heavily on character development because they’re character-driven. Even those that are plot-driven still need plausible characters. Are they uneducated, funny, mean? Take the time to study your characters. This helps with the development, dialogue, and believability, which ultimately connects the reader to the story.
Dialogue – Dialogue is great in molding a character. Readers can get a sense of a character from how they interact with other characters. If you have a character that lived their entire life in the countryside, you can change their speech to reflect their surroundings and naiveté of city life. This is part of character building.
Evolution – Like life, we like to see character’s evolve, growing and advancing throughout the story. You want them to learn something they didn’t know at the beginning. Keep in mind that your characters can only evolve within a realistic amount of time. Realistically, a killer can’t turn their life around overnight.
Freewriting – This is when you write without worrying about the condition of the writing—to write without editing. It’s a great way to let ideas pour onto the page by exploring characters and plot without the baggage of grammar and outlines. If you struggle with writer’s block, this is one way to combat it.
Genre – Genres define the type of book written. This is still a troublesome area for most authors because there are so many categories a book fits into nowadays. Some authors have redefined or created new genres. For help in finding your genre, list the themes in your book, such as romance, humor, and adventure equals a romantic comedy.
Hook – This is what writers refer to when hooking readers at the beginning of the book. The first/opening line or paragraph of a novel need to have a good hook. A novel should capture a reader’s attention from the first paragraph, so they’ll continue with it.
Imagery – Describing a character or setting using the five senses. This is part of showing instead of telling. Aside from sight, use the other senses. This gives the reader a better understanding of character and setting.
Jargon – Language used by a particular profession or group that other’s don’t understand. If one of your characters is a doctor, they might rattle off medical jargon—another additive for character development.
Killjoy – This isn’t actually a writing term, but I thought I’d use it in my alphabet advice. Killjoy is a person who ruins the enjoyment for others. Writers sometimes tend to explain too much, insulting the reader’s intelligence. Don’t explain everything to the reader, which I consider a killjoy. Give your audience some credit when it comes to following and understanding the story. If it’s written well, they shouldn’t have any problems.
Lazy – Many people who are starting out as writers feel the need to ignore writing rules. They believe there is no such thing. This is a lazy way of thinking. Of course there are rules because writing is a craft—a skill that very few have without practice and knowledge. Those who think this way are too lazy to learn the skills of writing, for example, character and plot development, show vs. tell, language, and the list goes on.
Mood – Book covers, language, set the mood of a novel. It helps define genre. If a novel is a crime mystery, then you want the book cover, blurb, and language to set the mood. There’s nothing wrong with throwing in humor or other themes, you want layers, but the main tone is what deepens the reader’s experience.
Navigator – Another word I thought I’d add to writing. You are the navigator of your story, and it’s your job to navigate through characters, conflict, climax, up to the end. Sub-plots are great. They interrupt the flow, similar to life, navigating the main story or characters. If you go off-course, unfocused, there’s a good chance your reader will stop and navigate to another book.
Opposition – Hostility and conflict are great in novels. They keep the reader’s attention. Life is all about obstacles and successes. Let your characters and plot reflect reality.
Point of View – This is the perspective of the story sometimes told from a character’s perspective or a third party. Every writer finds their own comfort in POV. Here are the different POVs: First person, Second person, and Third peson (limited, multiple, omniscient.
Quit – Writing can become lonely. Many writers question whether they’re good enough. If you love writing, put in the time to learn, then I suggest you stick it out. Accept the fact that you will feel alone at times. You might not sell the amount of books you had hoped. But isn’t life all about doing what you love? Just make sure that if you’re going to publish and charge for your works, that you’re offering your best.
Revisions – Revising a book is so important. I see writers posting on forums that they finished writing their story and want to publish now. They only have one draft—the rough draft. You and others must revise your book many times. Revise, revise, give to a beta reader or critique partner. Revise, revise, and give to an editor. Revise some more. Send for a few proof copies, and revise some more. It’s much better to get it close to perfect the first time you publish than taking your book down because of editing complaints.
Sabbatical – It’s good to take some time away from your manuscript. This allows your mind and eyes to rest before tackling revisions. Even during revisions, make sure you put it aside, especially if things start getting jumbled.
Tenacity – To be a writer, one needs to be persistent when it comes to all aspects of writing. There are times when you will want to give up. Maybe you feel someone writes better than you. Or you’re having difficulty writing dialogue. If you love it, keep the drive going. What you put into it is what you’ll get out of it. Writing isn’t all about sales. There’s a personal satisfaction when you finish a novel—a sense of accomplishment. This is what usually drives us onto the next project.
Unacquainted – If you’re unacquainted with medicine, and your story contains a doctor, it’s your job as a writer to make sure you research it. There’s nothing worse than reading a book where the author did not know the subject matter. They didn’t research it. Get acquainted with whatever subject you put into your novel that you don’t know much about.
Voice – Writers have their own voice. Don’t wish you could write like Stephen King because you won’t be able to, nor should you want to. Find YOUR voice when it comes to writing and try to perfect it.
Writer’s block – Most writers experience writer’s block. Nothing comes to them to write, or they’re stalled on a project. Step away and try something new, such as freewriting. The more you worry about it, the harder it is to get rid of. Instead, try to jiggle your creativity in other ways.
Xenial – It means to be hospitable between host and guest. Be hospitable to your readers. They will stick around if you show them love.
Yell – Sometimes a character, the way the story is going, writer’s block makes you want to yell. Go ahead and do it. Yelling is a great way to release frustration.
Zealous – Passion, eagerness, this is the glue that keeps us writing. Stay committed to the craft, to your passion, to your dream, and in the end you’ll be rewarded.
Did I miss something?
Passion and Advice,