The Ultimate Guide to Fiction Writing

Updated: Apr 11, 2021

The most extensive and comprehensive introduction to #fiction #writing that you'll find anywhere on the web. The perfect resource for beginner-to-advanced fiction writers.

Fiction Writing Guide
The Ultimate Guide to Fiction Writing

Remember the first time you fell in love with a book to the extent of falling headfirst into the book and living your remaining life as a character in the fictional world? That is the power of enticing fiction. A good piece of fiction writing can spirit you away from reality to an imaginary world and make you devour the book until you can memorise and recite every sentence. Good fiction writing can stir the emotions of readers, move people deeply and change people’s lives for the better. Most fiction lovers get an irresistible urge to create an imaginary world that whisks away readers no matter where they are, takes them on an amazing rollercoaster of a journey, sinks them so deep into the world to the extent they lose touch with reality. While the elements of writing may stay the same for both fictional and non-fictional content, fiction writers need to take a completely different mindset while approaching these elements. Because, fiction writing comes with its own set of rules, quirks, and opinionated readers. Here’s all you need to know before you kickstart your fiction writing journey.

What is fiction writing?

Fiction writing is the art of storytelling that dates back to the beginning of civilisation. Stories, tales, and fables that are as old as time use fiction writing to narrate a personal account of an event or demonstrate a moral or spiritual truth to provide readers with a powerful emotional experience.

“Literature is a luxury; fiction is a necessity.” ― G.K. Chesterton

The main reason why people read is entertainment. They just want to lose themselves in the world of fiction and forget their woes. And that can only be fulfilled by offering readers an immersive experience that is packed with an emotional punch. Without the emotional pull, a piece of fiction writing will never be deemed as good irrespective of the fact how clever the plot is or how charming the characters are.

So, what is good fiction writing? Good fiction writing is a story that is orchestrated in a believable setting, filled with unique and interesting characters who toil in a series of conflicts that are woven together in an enthralling plot that develops over a meaningful theme to end in style with an ideal resolution after a gripping climax.

What is the purpose of fiction writing?

Although fiction writing is all about conveying an author's point of view, it's main purpose is entertainment. Anything from a short story and novel to a screenplay and drama irrespective of their fictional writing style focuses on delivering a surreal yet immersive experience to readers/viewers.

What are the rules for fiction writing?

The art of writing fiction is built around seven pillars or key characteristics of fiction writing namely,

  1. Constructing a believable setting

  2. Filling it with interesting characters

  3. Creating a compelling plot

  4. Delivering an emotional experience

  5. Leading to a worthy resolution

  6. Developing a meaningful theme, and

  7. Tying them all together with a unique style

What are the main elements of fiction writing?

All writers have great ideas. However, what sets a great writer apart from a novice writer is their craft. A great writer uses their craft and entices the elements of fiction writing to turn great ideas into great stories that withstand time. Listed below are the seven main elements or components of fiction writing:

1. Plot (includes structure)

The plot in fiction writing is defined as the basic storyline or series of events that make up the story. It is the fiction-writing element that educates your readers on what is happening in the story and in what specific order:

  • In the beginning. . .

  • Then it leads to. . .

  • Next what happened is. . .

  • Finally, it ended with. . .

2. Characters

Characters in fiction writing are made up of people, animals, and/or things the story is about. Authors can create "make-believe" characters by,

  • Describing the character well

  • Letting the reader hear the character's voice through dialogues

  • Depicting the character's actions in ways readers can relate to

  • Showing your readers the character's thoughts and feelings

3. Setting

Setting in fiction writing refers to the time and place the story happens. It answers the questions of "when and where" does the story happen. What's more, most fictional stories don't outright convey their setting, they leave it up to the user to identify the time period from various clues and descriptions in the story ranging from clothes worn to the technology used.

4. Conflict

Conflicts in fiction writing refer to the problem or struggle your characters face in their story. Conflicts can be of two types: internal conflict or external conflict.

Internal conflicts are thoughts or feelings the characters go through during a specific instance in their life like losing a game or feeling worried. External conflicts, on the other hand, are problems that happen outside the character. Those can be anything from circumstances to people who cause problems for a character in your fictional piece.

5. Climax

The climax in fiction writing is the most exciting part of the story where the plot was leading up to. It is the scene that finally reveals how the conflict or problem in the story will be resolved.

6. Resolution

Resolution is where readers learn how the story ultimately ends. Also known as the ending of a story, this is where a conflict is finally solved in one way or another. Depicting the final confrontation, it reveals the aftermath of the characters and finally wraps things up.

7. Theme

The theme in fiction writing is the overarching message delivered by a piece of fiction. Irrespective of the creative paradigm a piece of fiction falls into, most authors believe that themes should be developed last only after developing all details of a story. Because writing a fictional piece to advance the theme will only make the characters look shallow.

What is a fiction writing style?

While every writer has his/her unique style, there is a chance that it'll be more like that of some writers than others. However, the writing style in fiction writing is often considered to be the tool that is used to show rather than tell. There are four different styles of fiction writing and they are:

  1. Narration: It is the process of telling a story by summarizing events that happened over a stretch of time instead of depicting events moment by moment.

  2. Exposition: It is the process of justifying a statement by backing it up with relevant facts.

  3. Description: It creates a word picture in the reader's mind by pinpointing concrete details with strong nouns and verbs.

  4. Persuasion: It is used to make a strong case to drive home the author's point of view about an economic or political or religious or ethical dilemma.


Not that you know what fiction writing is, why fiction writing matters, what are the elements of fiction writing, and what fiction writing style means, what do you want to do next?

Do you want to write a story with a complex setting? Deep characters? A fast-paced twisty plot? A powerful theme? A unique and captivating style?

Which of these is your favorite element and why?

Remember, no matter what you choose, write what you want to not what you think people expect you to write.

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