How to Write Fiction Step by Step

Fiction and non-fiction are two of the main forms of writing. Fiction is the creation of a story from the author's imagination, and is not based on real events or people, though it may reference real events or people. Fiction stories are not true stories, though many have elements of truth in them. Fiction is by far the most popular form or literature, and you can find a fiction story in any genre. If you want to create your own work of fiction, all it takes is a little time and creativity.
Step 1

Format

Decide what format you want to write your fiction in. Even though there is no such thing as an absolute format, using a format such as poetry or short stories can help you somewhat structure your fiction.

Step 2

Get an idea of some sort

All books start from a small idea, dream or inspiration that is slowly transformed into a larger and more detailed version of that same idea. If you’re having issues coming up with good ideas, try these:

Make lists of random things: ‘the curtain’, ‘the cat’, ‘the investigator’ etc. Take each word and add a few things. Where is it? What is it? When is it? Make up a paragraph about it. Why is it where it is? When did it get there? How? What does it look like?
Make up some characters. What is their age? When were they born and where? Do they live in this world? What is the name of the city they are in now? What is their name, age, gender, height, weight, hair color, eye color, ethnic background?
Try making a map. Draw a blob and make it an island, or draw lines indicating rivers.
If you do not already keep a journal, start now. Journals are amazing helpers when it comes to getting good ideas.

Step 3

Let your idea feed

It needs to become bigger. Take notes on what you might want in the story. Go to the library and read up on interesting topics. Go outside and look at nature. Let the idea mix with other ideas. It’s kind of like an incubation period.

Step 4

Get the basic plot and setting figured out

When is it? Is it in the present? The future? The past? More than one? What’s the season? Is it cold, hot or mild? Is it stormy? Where is it? Is it in this world? A different world? An alternate universe? What country? City? Province/State? Who is in it? What is their role? Are they good or bad? What is the precipitating incident that made this story happen in the first place? Is there something that happened in the past that could affect what happens in the future?

Step 5

Outline your story

Use Roman numerals, and write a few sentences or paragraphs on what is going to happen in that chapter. Not all writers use outlines, but you should try it at least once, to see what works for you.

Step 7

Take a break

After you have the first draft all on paper, just forget it for a week or so. Go to the movies, read a book, ride a horse, go for a swim, dine out with some friends, go for a hike and get some exercise! When you take breaks, you’re more inspired. It’s very important not to rush, because then your story comes out as a scrambled mess. The more time you take, the better it will be.

Step 8

Read

Yes, you have to read your own work. Just do it. While you’re reading it use a red pen to make any notes or corrections you want. In fact, make lots of notes. Think of a better word? Want to switch some sentences? Does that dialogue sound too immature? Think that cat should really be a dog? Read your story aloud, it helps you find mistakes.

Step 9

Revise

Revision literally means to visualize it again. Look at it from a different point of view. If it’s in first person, put it in third person. See which you like better. Try new things, add new plot points, add different characters or put a different personality on a current character, etc. You may want to get on the computer at this point and type it out. Cut out the sections you hate, add sections which will make it better, switch sections around, fix spelling, grammar and punctuation. Make your story stronger.

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Step 10

Copy-edit

Go through every line, looking for typos, misspellings, grammatical errors, awkward words and things that don’t fit. You can go through looking for a specific thing, like spelling errors, and then again for punctuation errors, or try to fix everything at once.

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Step 11

Format your work and put it into manuscript form

On the first page you’ll want your name, phone number, address and e-mail in the top left hand corner. In the right hand corner, put the word count rounded to the nearest 10. Press enter a few times and then put your title. The title should be centered and set off somehow, like in bold or all caps. Press enter a few more times then start the text.

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Step 12

Print

Print out a few manuscripts and give them to friends of family to go through and take notes. If you like what they wrote, you could add it in.

Step 13

Submit

Finally submit your manuscript to an editor or publisher and keep your fingers crossed.

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