Hey, let’s talk about writing fiction!
Most of the time, when you look for good writing tips for novels, you look go to the most popular books, right? The ones that just about everyone in the world loves. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with doing that, but sometimes, shouldn’t we pay attention to the books that come for our beloved bloggers? Because their books have a lot to say about writing, too.
So here are four tips I’ve come across simply by reading books by some of my favorite bloggers.
1. Writefury’s Blank Mastermind: Make it fun
Off the top of your head, how many universally accepted tips for writers can you think of? Show, don’t tell; infodumps are bad. But here is one very important fact that no one will tell you while they give you writing advice: Novels are not only supposed to be for teaching lessons, but are supposed to also be entertainment.
I’ve read countless articles and books about writing in the last year, since I began my own story. I can’t begin to tell you how many of those were about characterization or plotting. But in those thousands of articles, I found only one that reminded me that stories should be entertainment. Just like movies, books should be fun to read. And if they’re not, if they’re especially difficult or boring (ahem, Mansfield Park), not many people are going to enjoy or recommend them.
So now we come to Blank Mastermind. At first it was a funny short serial story about a villain who lost his memories. It grew longer and got a message and everything a good book should have, but it remained a funny story the entire way through! It was still entertaining and enjoyable to read.
Le synopsis for Blank Mastermind-
“Amnesia is annoying. The poor hero has to find out everything about his wonderful life again and re-meet all the lovely people he knew before, then go to stop the villain.
But what if the life that starts showing itself isn’t wonderful, the people aren’t lovely and the villain is… yourself?”
2. Hannah A. Krynicki’s Son of Ren: Don’t try to use someone else’s style: follow your own, and it will be best for your own story.
Imagine something with me. What if Tolkien had decided to use the easiest, blandest, shortest words he could think of while he wrote Lord of the Rings? What would we have then? Probably a good story in all, but it wouldn’t be half as good as what it right now- a super long and honestly difficult novel. Tolkien’s prose is beautiful; he uses difficult words, yes, but in the way that his words flow best. They wouldn’t work any other way, would they?
Now imagine something else. What if J.K. Rowling decided to imitate Tolkien’s writing style instead of using her own more British, less glittering style? She might have pulled it off (she is “the master storyteller”, after all), but would it have been her own? No, and it probably wouldn’t work for her story. How well would Harry’s school days/fighting Voldemort match Tolkien’s high vocabulary? They wouldn’t at all.*
So why’d I tell you all that? Because I’m trying to prove that everyone has their own style, and that imitating someone else’s style will not work for your own story.
My sister’s novel, Son of Ren, has its very own, unique style. At first it reminded me a lot of Henty, but it definitely has a lot of the qualities of LotR. Shards, mien, shatter, etc. all frequent the pages, and I think it absolutely works for this book. And no other style but my sister’s would have suited her story.
Le awesomeness synopsis-
“Elkay knows that the ancient word “ren” means pure, but to do the right thing is difficult in his time.
The kingdom of Southland is shattered into eight realms, each struggling to fight alone against their common enemy Kabar. If Elkay can forge a new kingdom, they could easily achieve a final victory. He needs only to convince the seven other lords to unite under one king- under himself as king. Elkay finds that he desires the crown of this new kingdom more than any other treasure in the world. To get it he lies and even finds ways to eliminate those who stand in his way. As Elkay grows older and falls deeper into the pit of arrogance, his kingdom slips further from him. In the end, Elkay may discover too late that pride and lust for power will destroy those things dearest to him.”
(And don’t judge me for using my sister’s book.)
3. Nate Philbrick’s Where the Woods Grow Wild: A light style and humor can be just as useful for deep messages as melancholy tones.
Generally, when someone wants to be inspirational and deep with their novel, they’ll take a darker, more melancholy tone, which is great for a lot of people. (Such as me, someone who enjoys having their heart torn out while they read a book.) But occasionally, a lighthearted, fun read can be just as enjoyable, even for the melancholics. Unfortunately, with those lighthearted books, you usually don’t get very deep or inspirational messages. Which is a shame, really.
Until January, I hadn’t read a single lighthearted book that actually had a great, inspiring message. Then I came across Where the Woods Grow Wild, and I was so happy that I had finally found something that was encouraging and didn’t make me feel like using the Avada Kedavra curse but still had a complex, deep message.
Le lighthearted synopsis-
“A forest looms over Bardun Village. Nobody goes in. Nothing comes out. The secrets in the oaks remain hidden until a mischievous escapade thrusts Martin and Elodie behind the silent trees. Separated and lost in a tangle of fantasy, they discover more than animals roam where the woods grow wild.”
4. Hannah Heath’s Skies of Dripping Gold: Don’t make a story longer than it has to be.
You know those 18th and 19th century novels that have a core story, but just can’t seem to focus on it and wind up being super long and boring (ahem, Mansfield Park and Les Miz!)? Seriously, those books could be cut down to a third or fourth of their size and would be better books for it; there are so many unnecessary things. I don’t want to learn about what bushes do to the appearance of a courtyard or about the Parisian sewer system- if I did, I would buy a book about bushes or Paris!
Which brings us to Skies of Dripping Gold. At about 30 pages long, this short dystopian story wasn’t something that I expected would impact me much.
Well, it did. It’s one of the *counting on fingers* six, I think, books that actually made me really cry. A lot. (Yeah, there are a lot more that I just teared up for.) It was sad, beautiful, and inspirational, and I loved it to pieces, though I spent a mere 20 or so minutes reading it!
So my point is this- if your book should be a long one, make it a long one. But if the story you’ve planned doesn’t absolutely need to be 100,000 words long, don’t add unnecessary events and infodumps to fill up space. If it’s a good story, it will be impactful enough on its own, and it won’t need help from the Parisian sewers.
Le last synopsis-
“In an angry, frightened world where the Poison claims many lives, a young man’s belief in Paradise has collapsed into a distant dream. Gabriel can no longer place his trust in the existence of such a place. Not when his sister’s pain continues to sap her strength. Not when prayers for her healing go unanswered.
As the Poison progresses, eating away at Lilly’s life, Gabriel sets off on a desperate climb to save her from death. Struggling to discover the truth behind a world where the skies drip gold, Gabriel tries to maintain his disbelief in a God while clutching after hope for his sister’s salvation. But, as he climbs the cliff that is said to lead to Paradise, he begins to see: if he can’t bring himself to believe in a place of peace and golden skies, then how can he possibly hope for his sister’s rescue? How can he possibly hope for his own?”
So what do you think? What other pieces of writing advice have you learned from bloggers?
*I’m not saying Rowling’s style is bland or boring. I love her books maybe even more than I love LotR (it’s a toss-up between those two for my favorite series), and all I’m saying is that her more British style wouldn’t have worked for LotR, and Tolkien’s sparkling vocabulary wouldn’t have worked for Harry Potter.