There is no surefire method for producing a good work of fiction. Techniques and habits that work for some writers do not work for others, and the creative process can vary greatly from writer to writer. However, certain habits are generally accepted as constructive and conducive for the fiction writer. To master the creation of fiction, the writer usually incorporates the following habits into his or her daily life:
Writing on a consistent basis produces the finished product and improves writing style. Stephen King, a prolific writer of dozens of novels, claims to take no day off when it comes to writing. "The truth is that when I’m writing, I write every day, workaholic dweeb or not. That includes Christmas, the Fourth, and my birthday." He produces ten pages a day, which is an average of 2,000 words. The average writer, however, usually has a full-time job and a more realistic daily amount would be 500-1,000 words.
Talent is important, but it may not be enough. "Most of these folks with so much raw talent will not make it as novelists. Why? Because they lack what’s truly necessary: self-discipline, dogged determination, and stick-to-itiveness." The writer who waits for "the muse" for inspiration may never finish his work. He has to write consistently whether he feels like it or not.
"You can’t be a writer if you’re not a reader." . The writer of fiction probably has a specific genre in which he wants to write. Taking several of his favorite novels or short stories in that genre, the writer should read them each two or three times. The first read should be for enjoyment; a second reading of a book could be more critical. In the second reading, the writer should make notes: turning points in the story; introduction of characters; appearances of symbolism.
The fiction writer should attempt to read widely, that is, read not only fiction from the genre in which he prefers to write, but also genres in which he has not explored. If he wants to write a Science Fiction novel, he should read from a genre with which he may not be familiar such as murder mysteries. Reading widely will "help you learn more about writing than anything else you can do for yourself. It will keep your mind active, keep you interested in writing, and help you learn to recognize and fix your mistakes."
Keeping a notebook for jotting down ideas can benefit the writer. A writer’s notebook can be divided into several categories:
- ideas for character names
- possible titles for stories
- unfamiliar and unique words
- A fiction writer can also keep a section in a writer’s notebook for journal entries, ideas for future stories, character descriptions, and scene or chapter summaries.
- Think about the main plot idea before commiting to write. That way you will know where you are heading. You can also make a plan by writing a table of contents.
- Write the natural way, don't use an artificial jargon or dialect.
- Use words with precision, that is, avoid the using of empty words such as "thing" and others. Words and sentences must be concrete.
- Use punctuation properly. Also use grammar and well constructed sentences. Readers will stop reading if they find many grammatical or spelling errors.
- Describe your characters, both physically and psychologically. That way readers will believe they are real. Psychological description is mainly done by means of dialogues.
If you are writing in the third person ("David ran into the house") as opposed to the first person ("I ran into the house"), it is a good idea to not use contractions in the narrative as it makes the story flow much more clearly. There are obviously some exceptions to this rule:
- If a character is speaking and uses contractions.
- If a proper noun is referenced and uses contractions in its name "Don't Quit: A Motivational Book".
- If a story is written in first person and the character uses contractions quite often.
- If writing an excerpt from an in-text source (a character's journal, diary, text message, etc.)