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The Biggest Secret to Writing Great Fiction

We're not always aware of the power we're sitting on, that we possess as writers.

We're not always aware of the power we're sitting on, that we possess as writers.

How Do You Write Better Fiction?

Yes, there is a secret to writing fiction that the majority of authors either don't know about or don't know how to do well. In fact, it's the secret to writing any kind of creative writing or fiction, from memoirs to novels, from novels to short stories. It's the secret that takes a lot of time and effort to learn. And, it's a secret that takes a lot of revisions, a lot of editing, and a lot of rewriting to pull off, effectively.

It's the secret that a lot of authors wish they knew. I'm talking about the secret that is the foundation of the novel, the secret that forms the most important moments of the novel, and the secret that is the key to making the novel work.

The Secret: Create Vivid Imagery by Showing, Not Telling

If you are looking to add an extra layer of depth and emotion to your writing, whether you are a novelist, a poet, or even just an avid diary keeper, vivid imagery can take your writing to the next level. In this article, we will explore the secret, which is how to use showing over telling by creating evocative imagery to make your words come alive for your readers. Read on for tips on how to bring your words to life.

See, inside your mind, the story you are telling your readers.

See, inside your mind, the story you are telling your readers.

What Does "Show, Don't Tell" Really Mean?

The biggest secret to writing great fiction is to show and not tell. What this means is that you should not tell the reader what something is, but instead you should show them. This is because the reader will be more likely to believe what you are trying to convey if it is shown instead of told. The reader will also be more likely to believe what you are trying to convey if it is shown in a way that is believable.

For example, you could show a person who is sick by describing the color of their skin or their body temperature. This is because it is more believable that a person would have a certain color or temperature when they are sick than if you just told them they do.

Imagery and Suspense

Some of the most effective techniques to create a story and keep the reader hooked are imagery and suspense.

  • Imagery is the use of words to create a picture in the mind of the reader. It can be pictures, sound, or any other sense. Imagery can be used to create suspense.
  • Suspense is the feeling of anticipation and tension in a story. It is the feeling that you are not sure what will happen next. The use of suspense can keep the reader hooked and wanting to find out what will happen next.

Dialogue

When writing a novel, it is important to show, not tell, the reader what is happening. This is a technique that can be used to make the story more exciting and engaging. To do this, you should use dialogue to describe the scene. You should also use dialogue to show the reader what the characters are thinking. This is one of the best ways to keep the reader on their toes.

Describe the shadows, the haze, the darkness that engulfs the old abandoned house.

Describe the shadows, the haze, the darkness that engulfs the old abandoned house.

"Showing" Brings Stories to Life

Although there are times when you will have to tell, just know that showing is much more effective than telling because showing is what helps the reader picture what is happening. This is why it's important to show instead of tell. If you don't show, the reader will not be able to visualize your story.

Make the Reader Feel the Story and the Characters

When writing a novel, you have to make the reader feel the story and characters. You have to make them feel what the characters are going through. This is the hardest part of writing a novel. You have to figure out how to make your readers feel the story and the characters without having to give them all the details. You have to figure out how to make the story happen without having to describe it. The secret to making the story work is to make the reader feel what the characters are going through.

The secret to writing fiction is to imagine your story in a way that is interesting, engaging, and believable:

  • Be creative. It is important to be creative when imagining your story.
  • Know your main character. Make sure that you have a good grasp of your central character.
  • Ensure the story flows well and isn't repetitive. You should also make sure that you have a good flow to the story and that you aren't repeating yourself.
  • Create an arc for your main character. It is essential to make sure that your central character has an arc. This is the most important part of fiction writing, and it is what makes the story believable and engaging.
  • Give your character their own voice. You should also make sure that you have a good voice for your character. This will be good for the reader and it will make it easier for them to connect with the central character.

Put the Reader in the Protagonist's Shoes

The secret to making the novel work is to make the reader feel like the protagonist. It’s important to make the reader feel like the protagonist is relatable and someone they can connect with. It’s also important to make the reader feel like the protagonist is someone who is going through something that they can relate to as well.

The protagonist should also have a goal that is different from the reader's. For example, the protagonist may have a goal of going to college, while the reader may only be thinking about going to vocational school. It’s important to make the protagonist someone who is a bit like and a bit different from the reader so that the reader will like them and will feel like they can relate to them.

Evocative Imagery Is Key to Great Storytelling

It is impossible to create a good novel without using imagery. The secret to making the novel work is to make sure that the reader is fully immersed in the story, and the best way to do this is to use imagery. This is done by using words that create an image in the mind of the reader. This can be done through the use of adjectives, metaphors, similes, and other techniques. This is a great way to make sure that the reader is fully immersed in the story.

Word Choice

Just think about the words your reader will be reading. Use words that evoke images. Words that will make readers see the images in their minds. Use words that show the reader what is happening.

For example, using such words as, "the tall, dark figure walked across the room," shows the reader the image of a man shrouded in darkness as he walks through the room. To describe a character, you might say, "Her dark hair fell in waves around her shoulders," to show the reader what the character looks like.

Building Suspense

You can also use imagery to build suspense. You could say, "His eyes narrowed as he watched her," to show the reader what the character is doing.

World Creation

Finally, you can use imagery to create a whole new world. You can say, "A steady stream of people walked through the door," to show the reader what it looks like when hordes of people enter a building.

Examples of Imagery

Some examples of imagery in writing a novel are as follows:

  • a searing heat wave
  • the taste of a sweet cake
  • the crunch of glass beneath their feet
  • the sound of a storm
  • the smell of a cedar closet
  • the feel of his warm breath on her neck

In literature, imagery is the use of sensory detail to evoke a visual effect in the reader. In the novel The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger, the author uses imagery to create a vivid picture of the protagonist, Holden Caulfield. For example, the reader can picture Holden at a baseball game, sitting in the bleachers, watching the players.

Yellow, menacing eyes no one believed were human.

Yellow, menacing eyes no one believed were human.

You Must Work Hard to Make Readers "See" What You Are Saying

I've written articles on it before, but I'm writing this article to emphasize that the secret to writing great fiction is to show, not tell. I'm not talking about writing long, rambling descriptions that attempt to describe everything contained in every scene you include in your story. No. What I'm saying is that you should be able to show the reader what is going on without having to use a lot of words.

This is especially important when you are writing a novel. It is important that you show how the characters are feeling, and how the characters are reacting to the events in the story. And you can do this by using both dialogue and imagery. Your words must enable the reader to “see” what is happening in the story, rather than having you tell them what has happened. They must be able to feel the emotions of the characters, and they must be able to "see" the actions of the characters.

Although there will be times when “telling” is needed, as a writer of fiction—with practice, you will develop a sense of when to show and when to tell. The most important thing to remember is that unless you learn how to show when you need to show, your novel will end up losing the ability to work the “magic” that it is capable of working if you learn to make readers “see” what you are saying.

Know Your Characters' Motivations

One of the best ways to show not tell is to make sure that your characters have motivations. For example, if you have a character that is always getting into fights, make sure that there is a reason for it. If the character is always getting into fights because she is a bully, then the reader will understand why the character is the way she is. It is important for the reader to understand why the character is the way she is.

You can also use the idea of motivation when you are writing dialogue. If you have a character that is always getting into fights, make sure that the dialogue reflects that she is a bully and even hints at or shows the reason why she is a bully.

Understand the Story You Want to Tell

The secret to showing and not telling is having a good idea of the story you want to tell and then trying to imagine what would happen if that story actually took place in real life. Once you understand the story you are trying to tell, you will be better prepared to come up with the dialogue and the scenes for your story.

It is important to think about the dialogue and the scenes before you start writing. Thinking about these things while actually “seeing” them in your mind will help you write while “showing” your readers the pictures you see in your mind.

It is also important to make sure that you know what each character is thinking and what they are feeling. This will help you to make the scenes more realistic and more believable. Another way to make things more believable, to write about the images in your mind, is to think about how you would feel if you were in the character's shoes.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2023 Sallie B Middlebrook PhD