4 Rules for Writing Fiction You Can Ignore

You think you know how to write fiction? You probably don’t. Not unless you follow these four cardinal writing rules.

Remember: some highly successful writers break these rules and still write great stuff. But you are not one of them. It is not possible to break these rules and write great stuff unless you are already a successful writer. Got it? Good.

1. Show, don’t tell

You’re telling me a story, right? Wrong. You need to show me the story. You don’t need a pen and paper or a keyboard — you need a stage. Perform for me, monkey.

You could act out the story, mime it, or come up with a contemporary dance routine. Whatever you do, don’t you dare tell me what happens, because that’s bad writing. It’s boring. What readers really want is a series of ideas which they can interpret in a million and one different ways without fully understanding what your story is all about. Do you understand? Of course you don’t. That’s exactly my point.

Now, there is a very subtle difference between showing and telling when writing fiction, and I’m afraid I can’t share with you what that difference is. Why? Because I have no idea myself. Nobody does. All I know is that “show, don’t tell” is the most repeated mantra known to fiction writers the world over, and we must abide.

2. Never carry dialogue with anything other than “said”

You don’t want your writing to become too pretentious, right? In that case, don’t even think about using anything other than “said” when you’re telling — sorry, showing — us how your characters interact.

Continue reading on Medium >

Follow Ellie Scott on WordPress.com

Looking Back | Microfiction

Once upon a time there was a woman who only ever walked backwards.

She was the retrospective type. She believed that looking back would help her to learn from the past. It gave her time to brood over old regrets and figure out what she would do differently if she could turn back time and replay her life. Plus, it meant that she didn’t have to worry one jot about the future; she didn’t look ahead, so everything that was to come next was a perpetual surprise. Continue reading “Looking Back | Microfiction”

Passion for New Projects | Blog

I started a new story this week. A long one. Well, technically it’s a short story, but considering that the majority of tales I write here are under 500 words, it’s gargantuan in comparison.

And I’m so excited about it!

It’s one that came from a daft little scribble in a notebook; a single line that I felt had potential to be something interesting. And now it’s all planned out and a third of the way written and I feel like it’s my wee baby – something to love and nurture and make wonderful. Continue reading “Passion for New Projects | Blog”

Worth | Microfiction

The change in her attitude was abrupt, to say the least.

One minute she was typing manically at her keyboard, excited and determined to fulfil an end-of-day deadline that had never truly been achievable. The next, she was ready to leave it all behind. Continue reading “Worth | Microfiction”

How to Overcome Writer’s Block | Blog

Last year I wrote a blog post about how to overcome writer’s block, in which I recommended ignoring it and writing anyway. I mentioned that I try to adopt the attitude that writer’s block doesn’t exist, because resigning myself to writer’s block only makes the problem worse.

I do still stand by that to a certain extent, but I wanted to expand on it because overcoming writer’s block isn’t always as simple as completely denying its existence. Even if we don’t call it writer’s block, we can agree that there are always fluctuations in our creativity levels, the number of ideas we have, and the amount we write on a regular basis. We’re not all super inspired and eager to write every single day. We all go through phases in which we struggle to write, and it’s perfectly natural and normal.

But what’s the best way of dealing with it? Is overcoming writer’s block possible? Continue reading “How to Overcome Writer’s Block | Blog”

Is a Degree in Creative Writing Worth It?

In 2012 I graduated from Royal Holloway University of London with a joint honours degree in creative writing and drama. Pretty much ever since, I’ve wondered if it was worth it. Continue reading “Is a Degree in Creative Writing Worth It?”

Quantity or Quality in Fiction Writing?

I saw a Twitter thread at the start of the year in which people were discussing the Ray Bradbury Challenge (I’m not gonna share it ‘cos I can’t find it… bad blogger alert, sorry), and it got me thinking. So naturally, I’m going to ramble on about it for a few hundred words or so.

The idea behind the challenge is that you write a short story ever single week for a full year, because it’s not possible to write 52 bad stories in a row. At some point, you’re bound to come up with a gem, right? Continue reading “Quantity or Quality in Fiction Writing?”

Writing Makes Me Miserable: On Writing and Mental Health

Writing makes me miserable. But I do it anyway, because sometimes it’s just the tonic I need.

I’ve suffered from depression on and off since I was a teen. There have been moments where I’ve thought, “Shit, this thing is going to kill me,” and times where I’ve thought, “Wow, I’m so happy I can’t imagine I’ll ever be depressed ever again.” I was wrong on both counts. I’m still here, but I’m still working on my mental health every single day. Continue reading “Writing Makes Me Miserable: On Writing and Mental Health”

Not Everyone Has Their Sh*t Together

Not everyone has their shit together, and the sooner we all come to this realisation, the happier we will be.

I touched on this in my 27 Things I Learned by Age 27 list a couple of weeks ago, but I wanted to elaborate a little because, as some of you have probably figured out by now, I like to ramble. 😉 Continue reading “Not Everyone Has Their Sh*t Together”

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

Kelly examined her reflection in the mirror. She had a towel wrapped up in a pile on top her head, and another tucked around her body. Her skin was still flush from the heat of the shower, and she wished that she could always look as radiant.

No matter, she thought. She’d only be plastering her war paint over the top. Bold, black eyeliner and deep red lips, applied in just the way the woman on the makeup counter had shown her. It was her signature look, now, and it worked perfectly with her new capsule wardrobe which was crammed full of sleek, tailored outfits that proved she meant business. Continue reading “Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes”