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The Common Elements Of All Great Fiction Writing

Updated on October 23, 2013

Stop for a Moment and Think Back

What is your favorite work of fiction? If you are a prolific reader like I am, that might take you a moment of reflection. For this writer it has always been, and most likely always will be, “To Kill A Mockingbird.” I was in awe of Harper Lee’s work fifty years ago and I still am today, and in truth that is the standard by which I measure all fiction I read today….and all fiction I write today.

What I have found over the years is that great novels all share some common elements. Leave it to a former teacher to not only read to enjoy but read to analyze. Hey, I’m not one to reinvent the wheel. If certain writing elements worked for the Masters of Fiction then I see no reason why I shouldn’t hitch my wagon to those elements as well.

What follows, then, are the key elements I believe to be crucial for any writer attempting to write the next great novel.

The standard this writer aims at
The standard this writer aims at | Source

GREAT CHARACTERS THAT WE CAN RELATE TO

Dynamic comes to mind when I think of the great characters of literary fiction. There was something about them that made them memorable; there was also something about them that I could identify with.

Atticus Finch in “To Kill A Mockingbird” is, for me, the epitome of this element. He was such a good man….he was such a kind man…he was such an everyday man….he was, in short, a man I wish I had known. However, not all fiction characters are like Atticus Finch. Take, for example, Hannibal Lecter, as despicable a human being as you are ever likely to meet, and yet there was something about him that was disturbingly likable.

Give your characters depth. Give them dynamic qualities. Give them identifiable qualities. If you can do that then you have accomplished the first step in great fiction.

WE ALL WANT ENTERTAINMENT

Why do I read a novel? Quite simply to be entertained! I have spoken to great lengths about the importance of the ten second rule of writing, namely that if you don’t grab your reader’s attention in the first ten seconds you are going to lose them forever.

But what happens after that first ten seconds? You can fool a reader for ten seconds; what do you have after the initial stimulation occurs?

If your story does not maintain interest, and if your story does not continue to entertain for 100,000 words, in the end it will simply be a writing exercise. Great fiction is an enjoyable marathon and not just a stimulating sprint.

Originality begins in your writing studio and in your mind
Originality begins in your writing studio and in your mind | Source

Advice from a man who knows and has been there

You really need to own this book if you are a writer

YA GOTTA BE ORIGINAL

How many novels have been written? I have no clue; perhaps an easier question would be how many great novels have been written? With that qualifier we can safely say the number drops into the thousands at most, and I guarantee you that all of those great novels were original in concept. Oh, the basic storyline may not be original….boy meets girl….tragedy ensues….conquest….happily ever after….but somewhere in that story there is an original twist or original treatment of a common theme.

It is in that originality that we find greatness.

ALL THE SENSES ARE “ATTACKED”

We all have five senses. Great novelists understand that and write to all five senses.

They can paint a scene with their words that would bring envy to an artist. The reader can see the scene, can smell the scene, can hear the scene, can feel the scene and can taste the scene.

When I first read “To Kill A Mockingbird” I could visualize the dusty streets of Maycomb, Alabama. I could hear the birds singing in the trees on hot afternoons, and I could feel the dust in my shoes. I imagined the sweat on my brow and the smell of fear in the main characters.

Brilliant writing will bring our senses alive. Words are powerful tools in the hands of a craftsman.

Play with your readers' emotions so they are like a raging river
Play with your readers' emotions so they are like a raging river | Source
Look for the crossover appeal so you can reach millions
Look for the crossover appeal so you can reach millions | Source

AN EMOTIONAL ROLLERCOASTER

Do you want to engage your readers? There is no quicker way to do it than to play to their emotions. Find a way to tap into the anger, happiness, sadness, or fear of your readers and you will have taken a giant step towards being successful with your fiction.

We all share common emotions. They are, in fact, what makes all humans alike. Our experiences may be different, but our emotional responses to those experiences are the same.

Strap your readers into the seat of your own literary rollercoaster and wring those emotions out of them. Bring them to tears and then flick the switch and have them laughing. Do that and you have a winner on your hands when you are holding your novel.

BIRTH FROM A “WHAT IF” QUESTION

What if a small-town lawyer was asked to defend a black man in a rape case of a white woman in the Deep South during the 30’s?

What if dinosaurs could be cloned?

What if a family lost their land and was forced to move from the Dust Bowl to California?

What if there was a mass murderer preying on innocent women who all were the same body shape?

These are the central questions upon which novels are written. It is, in fact, the hook that grabs the reader by the throat and holds on for the entirety of the story. Make your “what if” question powerful enough and you will have no problem holding onto your readers.

CROSSOVER APPEAL

No matter what genre your novel fits into, in order for it to appeal to a mass audience it must have elements that allow that to happen…..the internal struggle of man…..the love and protection of family….the eternal battle of right vs wrong….these are characteristics that allow a science fiction novel to appeal to more than just science fiction readers, or a horror genre novel to appeal to science fiction readers.

I was reading a mystery the other day by Reed Farrell Coleman about a private investigator trying to solve a crime; nothing unusual about that. However, the lead character is so easy to identify with that you can’t help but enjoy the book. He struggles with many of the same doubts that you and I struggle with daily. He is the vehicle that makes the novel appealing to a wide-range of readers.

If you can find that vehicle then your novel will have a lot of miles in it.

Advice from a pro

Do the Litmus Test

Try these out and see if I speak the truth. Take your favorite novels and see how they do with this list of elements. I think you’ll find they have them in spades and that is the reason the novel is a royal flush in the literary world.

Now it’s your turn.

I will leave you with this thought, a little bonus inspiration for you all. I was reading an article written by Gilbert King about his experience writing “Devil in the Grove” which won him a Pulizter Prize. He explains that his personal story is about a writer who chose to do the work that made him proud rather than trying to please others, and a Pulitzer just happened because of it.

Do the work that makes you proud. In the end, you are the one who has to live with it.

2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

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    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Glimmer; I'm sure I will like it. I honestly don't know how I have missed it for so long, but I'll rectify that next week. :)

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 4 years ago

      I hope you enjoy the book Bill. Francie Nolan is my favorite character of all time and, while my background is not even remotely close to hers, I could identify with her and still do. Just a beautiful piece of writing. There are parts that still get me weeping no matter how many times I read them.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Glimmer, oddly I have not read that book but I will based on your recommendation. Thank you for that and thank you for being here.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 4 years ago

      I am now revisiting my favorite novel "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" to see if it matches up to your list and it does. Greatest book ever written in my opinion. I've read it too many times to count, and will read it many more times in my life. Thanks for writing this so I could think about my favorite book again.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      LOL....way too funny. Probably explains why I don't like peaches.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Yea, bro....and the "peach family" has pits too......:)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Paula, thank you and I do feel appreciated and loved, and I find that remarkable with people I have never met. HP has been a huge gift for me that keeps on giving.

      You are a peach, Sis!

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      bill...going way way back, "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn"...and I actually have an original edition.......inherited from my mother's library......as for more current.....I'm drawing a "blank" on the Title, but the author, one of my very favorites...John Grisham.

      Thank you for your irreplaceable lessons......and for all the reasons you present us with these gifts. You need to know how appreciated your shared wisdom is to your readers....UP++ tweeted

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Nadine, I get great joy out of helping others. It's the teacher in me; you can take a teacher out of the classroom but you can never take the classroom out of the teacher. :) Thank you my prolific reading friend.

    • Nadine May profile image

      Nadine May 4 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Love reading your hub. If only I had more time! Have about 5 books next to my bed. I love paranormal fiction and non fiction and I read fast. In between I love reading fantasy, science fiction, crime, medical or historical. I leave horror stories, that is not for me, although I have lately read a vampire story and it was very enjoyable. Thanks for your dedication, you inspire many others with your passion. Its addictive I'm sure.

      Nadine

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      drbj, if I'm not proud of it I don't push the publish button. Life is too short for me to hitch my wagon to sup par work. I won't do it.

      Thanks my south Florida friend. You are appreciated.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 4 years ago from south Florida

      Another inspiring article for writers, Bill, and the linchpin for me was your comment: 'Do the work that makes you proud.' Amen!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Deb, of that there is no doubt. I can't do it any other way and I know you can't either. Thanks for your thoughts.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Work from the heart is always more profound and inspiring than work that is correct by someone else's standards.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Twin; I am having a wonderful weekend and I hope you do the same.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Anna; I will definitely check him out.

    • Minnetonka Twin profile image

      Linda Rogers 4 years ago from Minnesota

      Thanks for the helpful tips on writing good fiction. If anyone would know, it would be you Billy. Your a great writer. Hope your having a great weekend :-)

    • Anna Haven profile image

      Anna Haven 4 years ago from Scotland

      He is a first world war poet Bill. 'Strange Meeting' is my favourite poem of his. It is incredible.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Anna, thank you so much. A master? I am humbled by that; not sure about it but grateful nonetheless.

      I have never heard of that book but I will check it out on your recommendation. Thank you my friend.

    • Anna Haven profile image

      Anna Haven 4 years ago from Scotland

      I love paranormal fiction and non fiction which I read a lot.

      'Strange Meeting' by Wilred Owen was the catalyst for my love of reading. I was at school and it mesmerised me. It made understand the futility of war and the power of words all in that moment. It has definately been the most influential piece of writing I have ever read.

      Your hubs always echo the lessons of my Uni professor. You say it much better though :)

      You are a master at yor craft and very likeable with it. Which in real terms makes you a very successful man.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Vinaya, I hope some day soon you will be able to work on those manuscripts. Thank you my friend and have a great weekend in Nepal.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 4 years ago from Nepal

      Bill,

      I have some manuscripts. When I'm ready to revise my works, I will consider your points. Thanks for the wonderful writing lesson.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sheila, comments like that are a sure sign you have achieved the intended goal. I would change a darn thing in your process if I were you. :) Thanks for sharing that.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ann, it is amazing to me how many writers ignore the five senses. The one thing we all have in common and it is left out so many articles. I say use what we have and make it work for us in our writings.....but ya know, what do I know? LOL Thanks as always my friend.

      bill

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      sheilamyers 4 years ago

      billy: As people read my first novel, I got comments while they were still reading. I had a few who told me (jokingly) they hated me for part of the plot. I also had a man tell me I made him cry and, since he denies ever having cried during sad movies and such, I felt I succeeded in doing what I intended. Positive comments like that keep me aiming for those same goals every time.

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      Ann Carr 4 years ago from SW England

      Great tips. I love 'To Kill a Mocking Bird' and I love 'Pride & Prejudice'; two totally different reads but both contain the elements you speak of. The five senses are used in good practice education; they are part of life and therefore should be part of any story. As always, good to have these tips set out clearly and effectively. Cheers to you and yours! Ann

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jo, you are a one woman cheerleading team. Thank you so much. I'm just trying to pass along all the stuff I've learned over the years while I'm still able to do so. You are greatly appreciated my friend.

      blessings to you and yours always

      bill

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      Jo Alexis-Hagues 4 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      Bill, of all your articles on writing, this is probably my favourite. As I finished reading, I realised I was nodding my head in agreement all the way through. I used to devour books, but alas.....not so much lately. You make me want to take the time to appreciate a good read again. Great work my friend, my best to you.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm glad vkwok; thanks for always being here.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Wayne, I cannot imagine being a writer who wants to improve and not reading. How is that possible? Like you I have been reading seemingly forever; I wouldn't be the writer I am today if it were not for all of those books leading the way and teaching me through osmosis.

      Let me know what you think of Mockingbird when you finish it.

      Thanks my friend.

    • vkwok profile image

      Victor W. Kwok 4 years ago from Hawaii

      Thanks for the amazing, informative hubs, Bill. These lessons are sure to help!

    • wayne barrett profile image

      Wayne Barrett 4 years ago from Clearwater Florida

      Bill, I asked a question a couple of months ago that pertained to reading and I was very surprised when a couple of hubbers commented that they never read. I try not to be judgmental, but I really believe that if you desire to become a successful writer, that you really need to read. I honestly believe that being a reader since I was a young boy greatly increased my overall education.

      I have just purchased 'To Kill a Mockingbird and will read it as soon as I am done with my current reading. It is one of those that I have always told myself to read but just haven't gotten around to doing it until now. Thanks again for the inspirational writing.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Michelle, great point. Thank you for your thoughts.

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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Like all the points, the last especially. Romance, for example, is more exciting when combined with a little horror, like Dracula.

      Shared.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Carter, thank you so much. The "what if" question is something I heard a long time ago but it has stayed with me because it is so true. I even went back over some of the great books I had read to see if it stood up and it does indeed.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Marlene, I love it...1000 words per day until done. You go, girl! :)

    • carter06 profile image

      Mary 4 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      Another fab hub Bill!! gosh and I have to say asking the 'What If' question is such a great idea, will have to apply that one!! But characters of my fav book, now that's where it becomes difficult..too many characters in too many books to decide..great tips Bill, thanks for sharing..cheers

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 4 years ago from Northern California, USA

      Oh, don't be too impressed, Bill. This is an old novel that I started years ago. Thanks to you, I dusted it off and picked up where I left off. My goal is to write 1000 words a day to get it done.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Doc! The fact that you love Mockingbird just confirms that you are a good person. :)

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      Marlene (Doc) 4 years ago

      Voted up useful & helpful. A very good hub. To Kill a Mocking bird was also one of my favorite books. I also can relate to at least one character whenever I read a book.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Brian, bravo to you! I had to laugh; I don't know how many times I have moved during my lifetime, but I guarantee you that there are about fifty books that have made every single move with me. LOL I understand completely.

      Thanks for stopping by.

    • Brian Prickril profile image

      Brian Prickril 4 years ago from Savannah, GA

      Hi Bill, great hub. I'll tell you this, I keep a small stack of my all-time favorite novels on the desk where I write. Most of them I've read one hundred times and the pages are curled at the edge from my constant thumbing for inspiration. Those authors and those characters are my driving force. And they are always on my mind when I write.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sheila, I'll check back with you in a couple days then. :) As for emotions...I can't imagine writing fiction without playing to emotions. :) Obviously you understand that.

      Thanks as always!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you kidscraft. Fiction is not for everyone; the world needs technical writers such as yourself; otherwise how would any of us learn? :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Hey Joe!

      I know you'll understand this when I say that we accumulate knowledge, but it is worthless if we don't share it. That's what I try to do with these writing articles. I've picked up a few things over the years and now I lay them out before all of you. You can pick and choose from the banquet until you are full and leave the rest. :)

      World Series? Go Cards! They have been one of my favorite teams since Bob Gibson mowed them down in the 1968 Series....Go Cards!

      Aloha brother!

      bill

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      sheilamyers 4 years ago

      All great tips. I find it hard to choose just one novel as my favorite, but "Shepherd of the Hills" (Harold Wright) and "This Present Darkness" (Frank Peretti) have to be the two at the top - at least at this moment. Ask me again in a couple of days and I might pick two other books. There are just so many great books out there.

      My favorite tip you included was about moving people's emotions. I love novels which have that roller-coaster you mentioned. If we can get people emotionally involved with the characters, I think that's a huge plus.

    • kidscrafts profile image

      kidscrafts 4 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      I loved " Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources" of Marcel Pagnol; a great French author and filmmaker. I read all his book :-)

      I am not a fiction writer and I don't think I will ever be. I think that I more a technical writer. But I love to recognize the different points you mentioned in the work of others!

      Thanks for sharing your ideas! Your thoughts are always well organized in your writing!

    • hawaiianodysseus profile image

      Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

      Hello, Bill!

      I love that you have written about fiction today. It energizes me for the hub I have yet to begin but have been thinking about for days.

      Reading and immensely enjoying what you've shared here inspires me to go find that excellent Gregory Peck movie again and...this time...follow up with a first time reading of Harper Lee's novel. Yep, I'm ashamed to say that one has eluded me all these 6+ decades. If it has moved you, my good friend, that's all the impetus I need to check it out.

      Thanks for your presence and wonderful literary example here on HubPages, Bill. You've helped me tremendously with my craft, even and especially in ways that I have not yet manifested. As they say, the story continues...

      Aloha, my friend, and enjoy the World Series! I'm certainly proud of that Hawaiian home boy, Shane V.!

      ~Joe

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Faith, I suspect most fiction writers draw upon the cast of characters from their real lives when writing fiction. I know I do, and others I have spoken to. I'm afraid my imagination isn't good enough to make up people....but then I knew some pretty interesting people during my lifetime. :)

      Thank you dear lady; blessings to you always.

      bill

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      Faith Reaper 4 years ago from southern USA

      I love "To Kill a Mockingbird" for the characters were based on real people, and fiction seems to always be great when one can relate to the characters when they come to life off the pages! I think most fiction may just very well be based on real life persons from the writer's life at some point. Then, however, many writers have such great imaginations and can dream up fictional characters to where they are brought to life---a good writer for sure in that case.

      Great points made here as always.

      Blessings, Faith Reaper

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Dora, fiction is not easy for everyone, and writing on the best of days is work. Keep at it my friend and I'm glad if you find this helpful. Thank you!

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 4 years ago from The Caribbean

      Great closing thought. Your favorite story is on my list of favorites, although I read it because I had to. Cannot explain it, but I have a hard time both writing and reading fiction. I'm learning lots from you. Thank you.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Marlene, I love it. You are about three thousand words ahead of me and my new novel. Reading has always been a source of inspiration for me. I will see a line and it triggers something in me and an article is born. The same with pictures. I don't know how my mind works but I'm glad it does. LOL You are very welcome; you are a good person and I like helping good people.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Kim, OMAM is an excellent example of all of these elements. Great reflections. Thank you my friend and good luck with your writing today.

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      BNadyn, I'm glad you liked these. Sometimes things we learned a long time ago become forgotten, so I dust them off and present them for all of you as a gentle reminder. :) Thank you for the visit.

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      Marlene Bertrand 4 years ago from Northern California, USA

      I'm not going to call it writer's block, but sometimes I get stuck. When that happens, I do as you suggested - I read a book. Reading inspires me to write. The more I read, the more I want to write. I don't know why, but it is just that way for me. And, Bill you really are helping me to spread my wings and fly. Thanks to you and your helpful tips I am at 14,259 words of a suspense novel that I'm writing. It's also about doing what George Wier said - putting my butt in the chair and writing.

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      ocfireflies 4 years ago from North Carolina

      Having been in the classroom for 20 years, it is difficult to resist the urge to analyze and not just enjoy the ride. For me, Of Mice And Men by John Steinbeck ranks up at the top. I worked with at-risk for drop-out students for most of my career. OMAM worked extremely well with "the first 10 seconds rule" and thereafter. So much happens in such short period of time. And even though I taught it too many times to remember, I do remember how by the time we came to the end, I was in tears. And I am pretty darn sure I saw some big 'ol boys tear up, too.

      Thanks for this hub.

      Kim

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      Bernadyn 4 years ago from Jacksonville, Florida

      These are such useful elements to remember for fiction writing. I especially like the "what if" question and looking back at my favorite novels, I can see how the author used it to write an entertaining story. Thanks for sharing your wisdom, as always! Enjoy your week. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jaye, I'm laughing about your earlier line about the younger you working circles around the current one. That's how I am with yardwork and chores now. I can put in a couple hours and then forget about it; when I was younger I would work twelve hours outside and not be tired. With writing, I'm actually more productive today than ever before....I'm going to ride this horse as long as I can because I'm loving it. Ideas are jumping out of my brain.

      Thank you so much...great point to remember about being in reading mode and what enthralls you. :)

      bill

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I do know, Carol, and thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      LOL....great line, Sha! What if that monster were really real????

      love you, and thanks!

      bill

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      Jaye Denman 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

      Hi, Bill - This hub makes me yearn to be writing fiction, temporarily placed "on hold" while I complete some freelance non-fiction assignments. (The younger me could work circles around the current me, in terms of output...alas!)

      As a reader, I weight character and plot equally. A story requires both memorable characters and a plot that I want to discover page by page in order to hold my interest. When writing fiction, I will do well to remember what enthralls me when I'm in reading mode.

      The "what if?" question is a great one for the fiction writer to ask when ideas are needed or an illusive one must be expanded to produce a full-fledged plot.

      Your list of elements common to great fiction writing should be posted above every writer's desk as a daily reminder.

      Voted Up++

      Jaye

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      carol stanley 4 years ago from Arizona

      the senses..Never thought of it this way..But I do know if I am not sold fast I generally am not sold at all. As always..you know ....

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 4 years ago from Central Florida

      I saw To Kill a Mockingbird on TV when I was a little girl. I've had great respect for Gregory Peck ever since. However, I've never read the book. Hmmm. I'll have to check with Santa on that.

      I love the "what if" scenario. As explained in the video, "what if" can bring something unreal to life and make it perceivable. This is why I sleep with a night light on when I'm reading a scary book. :-)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      DJ, thank you very much. I'm getting along in years and I need to share everything I have learned while I still can. Use it or lose it my dad used to say. :)

      Have a great day my friend.

    • profile image

      DJ Anderson 4 years ago

      "Our experiences may be different, but our emotional responses to those experiences are the same."

      That is truly an amazing thought. Of course, the experience must be much the same.

      Bill, you give us so much great information. I am inspired each and every morning that I wake to read your articles. Not sure this brain

      is big enough to remember much. So, I must pick and choose the best

      tid-bit of info, and hope it remains with me. You are a treasure trove of

      information, and your time and efforts are greatly appreciated.

      Many thanks,

      DJ.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Russ, your novel is an excellent example of that point. What if there were a warship that went back in time.......

      Thanks buddy and have a great day.

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Barbara, it's a kick doing so....a cheap high we writers get. :) Thank you for the visit my friend.

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      Russ Moran 4 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Excellent advice, Bill. The "what if" questions are critical to the very idea of a novel and to the entire story as it unfolds. It's a great way of brain storming with yourself.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Jackie and you make an excellent point as well. The characters in my novel were very real to me; Bev and I still will see someone walking down the street and say "hey, that looks like Sheila." LOL I love it!

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Lisa, good luck on that book. I have heard enough about it; now I want to read it. :) Thank you for stopping by young lady.

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      Barbara Badder 4 years ago from USA

      I like taking the reader on an emotional roller coaster. This is all good advice.

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      Jackie Lynnley 4 years ago from The Beautiful South

      I think To Kill a Mocking Bird was so good because it really was a true story wasn't it although called fiction, at least the characters were. There is even a little Winston Churchhill in there. I think the clue is making the characters real in your mind, whether they are or not. I wrote a children's rabbit story and those rabbits are real to me today and I often wonder what they could be doing if I had time. lol You make excellent points.

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      Lisa Williams 4 years ago

      Hi, Bill! This is very helpful. I know I have been struggling with making likeable characters since I started writing my book! This is why I keep re-working it lol! I know I will get there someday, and I will definitely keep these useful tips in mind!

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Eric, I would love to see an example of legal writing using these elements. Now you have me terribly curious.

      Thanks buddy and have a great day.

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      Eric Dierker 4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Great write and so useful. I do a lot of legal writing like briefs and complaints filed with court. I maybe should not admit that I use many of these techniques. Oh well I am just the writer, let the judges and lawyers sort out the truth! hihihihi

      (I really like the tip on "five senses", really cool!)

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      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Janine, you are so fast with your comments. I don't know how you get here so quickly. Thank you; I have noticed you use the five senses on your blog; great to see. Thank you my friend.

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      Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

      Wonderful tips, especially attacking the five senses. Seriously, Bill I always love reading what you would suggest, because you really do know your game on this. Thanks and enjoy your Wednesday now!