Ultimate Fiction Writing Guide

A Comprehensive Guide for Writers – and Aspiring Writers – of Fiction

Introduction

Ernest Hemingway once said, “It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way.” And he was correct. Even if you’re struggling with fiction writing now, that doesn’t mean you will forever. Even the most skilled fiction writers didn’t hone their craft to perfection without assistance from inspirational sources, seasoned advisors, great editors, and the pages of instructional books. Whether you’re a novice to the fictional writing genre or someone more experienced, you’re sure to find something of value tucked away in this guide filled with 43 worthwhile fiction writing resources, including fiction prompts and exercises, short story and novel writing resources, and more.

General Fiction Writing Resources

Here is an assortment of general resources that address writer’s block, introduce story development tools, inform about writing scams, and more.

10 Apps to Keep Your Focus

Use these resources to banish writer’s block, set timers to strengthen your self-control, prime the imagination pump, and flex your writing muscles.

100 Best First Lines

Read the best first lines of 100 different novels, from the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to the Wide Sargasso Sea.

Story 2.0

Discover two visual story development tools that can help you map the course of your novel or screenplay on one page.

Mind Map Any Idea or Project

Learn about mind-mapping, a visual tool that graphically organizes brainstorming sessions.

Writing Scams and Schemes

The writing and publishing world has a dark side. It harbors plenty of predators waiting to take advantage of earnest writers. Find out how to sidestep bad situations.

Fiction Writing Exercises and Prompts

When least expected writer’s block can appear out of nowhere. Or maybe you’re just suffering from a creative dry spell. If any of this sounds familiar, check out these fiction writing exercises and prompts that can help launch your creative side.

Fiction Writing Exercises

Find 11 fiction writing exercises like “Money” and “Falling Out of the Sky” that can help you develop your own story.

6 Great Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers

This article puts a different spin on writing exercises with the goal of keeping your writing fresh.

Fiction Exercises

Jump-start your fictional writing with these 17 exercises that you can alter as you wish.

Seven Flash Fiction Exercises for Novel Writing

Do you dream of writing a novel but don’t have the time? Check out these flash fiction exercises that will have you developing the bones of your next novel in no time.

Sketch a Novel in an Hour

This free-writing exercise is helpful for anyone wanting to write a novel, short story, or screenplay.

10 Keys to Writing Dialogue in Fiction

Find 10 helpful tips to creating dialogue for your fiction piece. This resource includes two dialogue writing exercises as a bonus.

100 Short Story or Novel Writing Prompts

Discover a plethora of writing prompts that will put your creative writing powers in gear.

Short Story Writing Resources

Whether you lack inspiration or you need direction condensing your brilliant short story idea into 10,000 words or less, the following resources can help.

Short Story Tips

Writing a short story is quite different from writing a novel because you have less words in which to set the scene, introduce the conflict, and reach the ending. Find out how to successfully write a short story without having to stall or start over.

Writing Your Own Short Story

This seven-page document has plenty of details regarding prewriting, drafting, and revising a short story.

Writing the Short Story: Points to Ponder

A look at the key elements of short stories from author Laurel Anne Hill.

100 Short Story Basic Ideas

Stumped for an idea for your short story? Follow this link to discover inspiration.

Novel Writing Resources

First-time novelists or authors who already have a few completed works to their name can utilize the following novel writing resources for helpful insight.

5 Things You Need to Know Before You Write a Novel

Best-selling novelist Larry Brooks offers advice to aspiring writers to help them avoid making mistakes the first time they write a novel.

The Snowflake Method for Designing a Novel

Randy Ingermanson, publisher of six novels and winner of dozens of writing awards, shares a method that works for him when writing a novel.

Footsteps to a Novel

This five-step process to writing a novel borrows from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves as a familiar example.

Advice on Novel Writing by Crawford Killian

Discover a wealth of valuable information – 180 pages to be exact – about writing a novel.

One-Pass Revision

This revision method for novelists only takes one pass because it’s extremely thorough and time consuming, but it can yield positive results.

Revising a Novel

Best-selling suspense author James Scott Bell offers his practical advice on revising your novel.

Basic Elements of a Novel

Plot, character, and setting are three of the most important basic elements when writing a novel. Take some time to browse the following resources to find ways to more effectively develop all three.

Plot Generator

This is an entertaining and useful way to come up with a plot for your next fiction story.

Plot Video Playlist

Find everything from quick tips to detailed information on how to plot any part of a story within these videos.

The Top 10 Plotting Problems

Head off plotting problems before they occur by learning about the most common ones now.

50 Plot Twists

Invigorate a flagging plot with one of these 50 plot twist ideas that are yours for the taking.

Character Resources

Dynamic, interesting, and motivated characters are what make a story worth reading. Check out the following links to learn how to effectively develop them.

Seven Common Character Types

Discover descriptions and examples of seven common character types that can help fiction writers develop their characters more effectively.

Character Chart

Author Charlotte Dillion’s free character chart offers you the opportunity to flesh out your fictional characters in great detail.

Six Distinctions in Motivating Characters

Characters need motivation to create action and move the plot along. Yet that motivation needs to be believable. Find out how to create it.

Naming Your Characters

This article examines three things to keep in mind when naming characters — personality, ethnicity, and the century of birth.

The Character Therapist

Therapist Jeannie Campbell combines her love of psychology and writing to evaluate and diagnose your fictional character in a typed report that you can use to create a more realistic character.

An Introduction to Writing Characters in Fiction

Purdue University’s OWL Writing Lab presents helpful resources for character creation and development that explain character archetypes and much more.

How to Create Characters That Are Believable and Memorable

Discover the four main criteria you need to meet to create characters readers will enjoy.

Writing Character Sketches

This link will help you learn how to write character sketches so you can become better at creating characters.

Setting Resources

Crafting the perfect setting to pull in readers isn’t all about describing the location. Find out what it takes to create a setting that will catapult your story to another level.

Discover the Basic Elements of Setting in a Story

Learn about the fundamental elements of setting and how they work within a story.

Author’s Craft: Setting

Learn how to answer the questions of what, why, how, when, and where when creating a setting.

Fictional Versus Real Settings: Which Is Best?

This examination of fictional settings and real settings helps you determine which is best suited for your project.

How to Introduce Setting

This link is for anyone who needs to know how to successfully craft a setting. It offers an insightful writing exercise.

Fiction Writing Teaching Resources

Discover fiction writing lesson plans, units, topics, and more for students in elementary to high school.

Arts Edge

Review this searchable collection of high-quality creative writing lesson plans for elementary, middle, and high school students.

Reading and Writing Flash Fiction

From the New York Times Learning Network comes this extensive lesson plan for teachers who want to introduce students to flash fiction.

Resources for Creative Writing Teachers

Check out this ready-to-use, 12-lesson creative writing unit with plenty of activities and exercises.

Creative Writing Ideas

Find some great writing ideas here, such as designing a room for a chocolate factory or writing traditional stories from a different point of view.

How to Teach Creative Writing

This link takes you to a 35-page PDF booklet with lessons and ideas for teaching creative writing to elementary, middle, and high school students.