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.

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This is Why I Suck at Social Media | Blog

Social media interaction is the first thing to fall by the wayside when I’m depressed. Long story short, it’s because I hate myself so passionately that it’s almost funny.

My self-esteem tends to be pretty low on a regular basis, but when depression takes hold it gets even worse; I find myself hating everything about myself and tearing myself down in every possible way. My appearance, my personality, my ability to write – everything about me sucks. I’m the real life Britta from Community – I’m the worst. Continue reading “This is Why I Suck at Social Media | Blog”

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”

I Don’t Know What My Genre Is (Or If It Matters)

Something that I’ve been struggling with recently is defining my genre. Right now, I pitch my tales as “speculative” because this seems to me to be the most professional way to define “weird shit” which is, apparently, what I tend to write.

People have told me I have a “style,” but when I ask them what that style is, they say, “Um, well, I dunno. It’s just kinda weird.” Helpful. Continue reading “I Don’t Know What My Genre Is (Or If It Matters)”

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”

What Querying Feels Like

I’m currently querying my first ever novel. It’s stressful, to say the least. It feels like there’s so much at stake and the thought of getting it wrong is horrifying, never mind the fear that the book is just pure rubbish which no literary agent in the history of time would ever be interested in representing. Okay, we’re getting into rant territory now; focus, Ellie. Continue reading “What Querying Feels Like”