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17 Dos and Don'ts of Writing Fiction

Updated: Nov 13, 2022

When we're in the process of writing, even seasoned writers make mistakes. Naturally, we are in the throes of our creative endeavor, and our goal is not to question every single #sentence and word, comma and paragraph. Not during the first draft, anyway--that'll come later when you rewrite and revise. But, as professionals, we should prep ourselves for the writing ahead of us before we sit down and start writing. We should review, if briefly, some of the do's and don'ts of our craft, just as a reminder. It's like reading what you wrote yesterday so you remember where you were and where you're going. I find it helpful when I write, and you may as well.

Of course, as mentioned in other posts, rules aren't set in stone, not if you know what you're doing. Not if you've put the 10,000 hours in to learning your #craft. But they do help us stay within the boundaries we need, at least at first, so that what we're writing isn't just a gobbledygook of words on a page.

The "rules" below prevent us from making the rookie mistakes. They allow us the #freedom to write without worrying if what we're writing is going to make sense or even be a shit #firstdraft, which is pretty much what we're going for when we first start writing. We aren't going to create something that's magic, not from the get-go. What we're doing is just getting what we hope our story is down, and down quickly. Having the do's and don'ts at the back of our minds helps guide us, if even subconsciously. Print them if you have to, and post them in front of you wherever you write. They'll keep you on track, and it'll make your revision process much easier later on.

Below are some Writing Tips that will help you avoid common mistakes writers, especially beginning writers, make. While there are exceptions to any rule in #writing, there are some things we should try to avoid as much as possible, at least until we have a mastery of the craft. Or at least a pretty good understanding of what makes good fiction, and what doesn’t.

Here are some Dos and Don’ts in writing fiction:


· Do use the active voice

· Do write short sentences

· Do use all of the senses, when possible

· Do keep the pace going using scenes and dialogue to break up summary & exposition

· Do create active, compelling characters who want something badly and go after it

· Do throw obstacles in front of your protagonist that they must overcome


· Don't use the passive voice

· Don't use #sentimentality

· Don't use #clichés

· Don't use coincidences

· Don't be episodic (plot is about causality)

· Don't use #adverbs (or use them very, very rarely)

· Don't overwrite

· Don't write overly-long sentences (they’ll confuse the reader)

· Don't tell your reader “It was all a dream.”

· Don't use Deus ex Machina (solving a problem with something unexpected or


· Don't use #sermons or #preach to the reader

*Don't forget to sign up to for our upcoming #onlineclasses, and visit us at our #social #media links below. Please share, like, and comment, and we'd love to have you as a #subscriber as well. Thank you!


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