Found some great writing advice for first-time authors and am passing it along for your use. When you first navigate the space of writing, communicating thoughts via words, you need some kind of roadmap for navigating the minefield of ‘how do I write *well*?’
writer-dude from Reddit has ya covered, fam. Take a look at his great writing advice for first-time authors, and see what it can do to inform your craft today!
New writers tend to work primarily on plot-development first and foremost—which is okay, but often at the expense of character-development and scene-setting, both elements (of a complete story) no less important than the plot.
If you’re in draft mode, ain’t nothing wrong with defining your plot first. After all, you want to know where you’re going and how to get there. But once a writer’s sure of that destination, it’s all about plumping up character personalities and motivations, and also about visually grounding readers in each new scene in the where (a wind blown, daisy-drenched meadow?), when (early morning? Late Spring? 2007?) and even why you’re including specific characters in any particular scene. (What motivates them, and you, to be there?)
Personally, I think proper scene-setting is equally as important to readers as plot momentum, and character-development very often more so. Readers don’t read novels to find out what happens, they read to find out what happens to who. So creating unique, dramatic and interesting characters (both heroes and villains) is very important. I mean there are only so many plots in the literary world, and most of them have been written a thousand times over. But your characters have infinite possibilities for expression, and their (sometimes eclectic) uniqueness is what sells books (imho).
Typically (and this is a generic observation… exceptions always exist) for every 100 pages of ‘plot momentum,’ one can easily write 100 pages of character development as well, much of which concerns the outcome of your plot, but can also add back-stories or side-stories or include secondary characters who fail at their tasks (or intentionally thwart your MCs…who then have to try again). And a writer can easily add 50-100 pages of scene-setting, exploring/explaining realms, adding visual excitement to scenes and giving characters (and readers) a chance to occasionally ‘stop and smell the roses.’ Heck, some writers (and George R.R. Martin comes to mind) can write a dozen pages simply visualizing a feast, setting the table and choreographing a scene before the action even begins.
So if you find your characters moving mechanically through the book, mindlessly following the plot—realize that there’s room for all sorts of embellishment, side-stories and unexpected twists and options for adding additional drama. How many times have you seen a character fail to start a car, when time is of the essence? Those few moments of frustration aren’t directly plot-related, they’re intentional interludes meant to add tension and drama. You’re upping the emotional ante and giving readers additional reasons to turn the page.
Should you decide to throw in a few extra (clueless, nefarious?) characters to foil your MC’s efforts, you can add dozens or hundreds of pages to a manuscript that don’t directly influence/effect the plot, but that add to the overall thrill ride, not to mention that you’re creating characters far more exciting (clever or scary, unlucky or frivolous or devious…or whatever) for readers to discover.
So there you have it – some great writing advice for first-time authors. Play around with plot, scene, character development – explore the space in your head where the story lives – and see what happens when you bring it to life. I’m pushing forward on this updated/edited draft of Mike.Sierra.Echo and I’m following this advice. I hope it helps you, too!
Write on! 😀