I am a firm believer in continuing education for everyone and everything, so it should be no surprise that I think writers should try to improve their writing. But in order to truly improve yourself and your skills – in any way – you need to be specific. As with everything, you’re probably good at a some parts of writing a book, but there are most likely others you struggle with. To help with that, I’ve identified 5 different parts of your book that can learn more about to improve your writing. For each, I have explained why this matters as well as several different resources to help you learn more. Check them out and then share your tips in the comments!
Dialogue – Obviously all parts of your book are important, but the dialogue is especially so because this is a key part of demonstrating the phrase, “show don’t tell.” Use your dialogue to show what kind of people your characters are. Through it, you can demonstrate their accent, where they’re from, what their opinions are of other people or things, etc. When working on yours, you can ask yourself a couple of questions: Does your dialogue sound like something someone would actually say? You can also use dialogue for telling your reader information that’s necessary to the plot but would take pages and pages demonstrating it. For example, if you want to show that some people think a house is haunted, write dialogue with one character telling another about a time they slept there and strange things happen. The character telling it can describe the strange things and tell the other. Check out: The Badass Guide to Creating Natural Dialogue, How To Write Dialogue, and 7 Tips for Writing Realistic Dialogue.
Characterization – Obviously plot is a crucial part of a novel, but your characters will be what makes your readers fall in love with your book. So many people fall in love with/fangirl or fanboy over characters or identify closely with them. So many people honestly, truly love characters and are grateful for their creator’s work. Working hard to create characters who are realistic and who readers connect with isn’t easy. They need to have flaws and strengths and dreams and fears and talk like actual people and … you get the point. Check out: 25 Things About Creating Characters, The Four Pillars of Strong Characters, How To Write Well-Developed Characters, and How to Write Believable Characters.
Setting Descriptions – The extent to which you describe the setting can generally depend on what genre your novel is and also your personal writing style. Let’s go back to the example from earlier, where some characters in your book think a certain house in haunted. If your character goes there, you might demonstrate the truth and/or what the character will think through the setting. Creating a creepy setting can imply that the house is haunted, whether or not that’s the truth. To use my writing as another example (please indulge me), it was very important to me when I wrote Aureole that I describe the Bishop’s apartment to the extent that I did. I wanted to use their apartment to show how wealthy they were and how they used that wealth. Oh, and if you’re writing anything not set in recent times, setting is going to be INCREDIBLY important in your novel. Check out: The Epic Guide to Setting Your Story, Writing 101: Setting and Worldbuilding, and How To Bring Your Setting to Life.
Facts and Background Information – While the big stuff matters, it’s the little things that make a book feel real. Think about your life. If you were to be a character in a book, how many parts in your life would be included by an average author? How many would they need to include for that character to resemble your actual life? But there are others parts of your book that you should focus on, too – the layout of the city your book is set in, what life was like at the time your book is set, if a certain technology existed when its set, etc. Check out: How to Cut the Crap and Research Your Novel Effectively, Researching Your Novel: The Ultimate Guide, Novel Research: 12 Ways to Ace Your Book, and Fact-Checking Your Book.Improve Your Writing: 4 Different Parts of Your Book To Work On Click To Tweet
With all parts of your book, ask yourself, “Does this move the plot forward or contribute to it? Why does this have to be in my book?” This will help you get rid of superfluous items so you can include items that will positively contribute, and therefore make your book better.