As you probably know, publishing has changed greatly over the past two decades. We now have ereaders, ebooks, and indie publishing where authors can publish their own books straight onto Amazon. If you’re an aspiring author, no matter which method you might choose to have your stories published, here are some tips that I hope will help you in your own writing journey.
If you’re a writer and are having trouble staying organized with all the details of your book (trust me, I know the feeling!) here’s how I keep track of my timeline and chapters using Excel. You can also use this method to keep track of character details including their motivation and character arch. Let me know if it helps, or if you have ideas for improvement!
Analyzing Your Story: Tips for writers from my own reading and writing
1. Anchor your story with a strong sense of setting.
2. Show, don’t tell!
3. Ensure that a clear goal is laid out for the protagonist so the reader knows the goal right away.
4. The main goal will carry a reader through a book. Smaller goals along the way will carry us to that big finish.
5. In Christian fiction, show the spiritual place of the hero/heroine. (Don’t assume the reader knows!)
6. Danger weaved into the story must have a connection to the main plot. (Don’t throw danger at your characters just to get your reader to turn the page)
7. Both the hero and the heroine need strong stakes in the situation.
8. Watch for characters and plot threads that disappear halfway in the book.
9. Avoid one-dimensional and clichéd characters.
10. Avoid predictable plots.
11. Avoid too many sentence fragments.
12. Avoid excessive conjunctions at the beginning of sentences.
13. Watch for characters talking themselves out of romantic feelings just for the sake of prolonging the romance thread.
14. In dialogue, use contractions to make it read more naturally.
15. Get rid of clichéd movements: pinch the bridge of his nose, rubbed his temples, shoved a lock of hair, combed his fingers…
16. Watch for repetitive words.
17. Avoid “on the nose” or forced dialogue.
18. Avoid skimming the surface of a characters’ belief as well as heavy preaching.
19. Ensure you don’t describe your characters’ spiritual lives only by what they do. (their church, music, books, etc.)
20. For suspense, keep the heart-pounding action and danger going throughout the story.
21. If you use POV changes, ensure each one continues to build the tension.
22. Details are important.
23. Deal with moral conflicts without preaching, and avoid looking at the subject as only black and white.
24. End the story when the end goal is achieved after the final climax.