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Writers are often told they are “lucky.” Good writing, as most all writers will tell you, is not a matter of luck at all, but hard work, determination, and lots and lots of self-discipline. For the most part, as a writer, you’re your own boss and developing working discipline is one of the most important habits of all. There’s always the temptation to not to write - other things that must be attended to first. Lots of times you may not “feel” like writing. It’s a battle, as a writer, that you might fight all your life. So, the first tip for a writer - whether a beginner or a seasoned author - is to develop a work schedule and stick to it. If you write from home and have a family, they’ll have to understand this is your work time and you’re not to be interrupted. Many writers find that if they end the day with something on paper, it’s easier to pick up from there to get started the next day. You can read what you’ve written the day before, make corrections and edits, and this sometimes “gets the juices flowing” to begin a new day. Another important aspect for writers is to develop a keen habit of observation and analysis.

Authors use certain key elements to write a novel or story. These include style, theme, plot, character and setting. Character is the “who” of the story, plot is the “what,” the setting is the “where” and “when” and style is the “how” of a story. The theme is generally the message or moral lesson of the story. Many writers find it helpful to use an outline for their novel or story. This can be done in many different ways. Outline often spurs the imagination to create the details that brings the story to life. Some work from the beginning, while others start at the end of the story and work backwards. You can jot down any ideas that come to you in your outline. The purpose is to keep the ideas for your story flowing. The style of a writer is personal. It comes from a whole set of choices the writer makes, consciously and subconsciously. Style includes things such as point of view, but also includes things like grammar, punctuation, word usage, sentence and paragraph length, number and length of chapters, tone, use of imagery, titles, etc. All of these choices eventually come together to create the writer’s own unique style.

In a novel, there are several types of characters. These include:
Point-of-view character. This is the perhaps the most important character because it’s by whom the story is viewed. The point-of-view character may or may not also be the main character of the novel or story.

The protagonist is the main character of a story, so, as discussed in the previous paragraph, we may also see the whole story from this character’s point of view.

The antagonist is the character, or characters, who opposes the protagonist.

Minor charactors interact with the protagonist and help move the story along.

A special type of minor character, called a “foil character” generally has traits that are in aversion to the main character.

The setting is the time period as well as the locale of the story. It may be a real place, or a fictitious place. It may be a fictitious county or city within a real country or state. It may be a completely fictitious planet or universe. As a fiction writer, while facts are important, you can also make up a lot about your setting. A real location must be accurately portrayed, and you must name it, but within the real place, you may take all the fictitious liberties you wish.

Finally, edit, edit, edit. Not just to look for mistakes, but to minimize what you’ve written. Many beginner writers simply use way too many words to get their point across. It’s like accessorizing your outfits - know when to stop.


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