Tips for Beginning Fiction Writers - Rancho La Puerta
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Tips for Beginning Fiction Writers

The Ranch is a haven for emerging writers.  We frequently have talented and established writers teach workshops here at RLP.  I’m lucky enough to have been to many classes and it’s helped my writing tremendously.

This past Writer’s Week, author Ellen Sussman taught Writing Fiction, and Les Standiford taught The Art and Practice of Storytelling.  Each class had some great tips for beginning fiction writers, which I’ll share in this article.


We’ll start with Ellen’s first workshop, Writing Fiction.  The takeaway from the class was to get the first draft on paper even if it’s not well-written.  Don’t worry about spelling, grammar, prose or story.  Most importantly, don’t overthink…let your subconscious do the writing.

We did five one-minute writing prompts about random subjects such as, “something you’ve lost,” or, “a bad habit you have”.  After the minute prompts, we chose one of the prompts to write about further.  We had to come up with a scene to write about based on the prompt for five minutes.  It was a fun exercise to create the beginning of what could become a more developed story.


In Les’ class The Art and Practice of Storytelling, we focused on character development.  Les says story patterns is almost always the same, it reduces to the character’s journey.  Good stories always come from good characters, and I couldn’t agree more.

When starting out with a new character, begin with answering these five questions:

  1. Who is the main character? Or more importantly, why is this particular person chosen to be the main character in your story?
  2. At any given time, what is the one thing the character wants or desires?
  3. What are the main obstacles that stand in the way of the character’s desire?
  4. How is the matter resolved, and what character quality helps determine that resolution?
  5. Most importantly, why would anyone (besides the writer) care about all of this?  How can the reader bond or empathize with the character?

I will definitely use these great tips to further my writing.  Writing fiction is a really fun hobby, whether you have intentions of actually writing professionally or not.  I started writing fiction at The Ranch after taking a class here, so if you’re in any way interested, don’t miss out on our writing workshops offered throughout the year.

The Ranch offers a variety of workshops, presentations, entertainment, and learning experiences to accommodate all of our guest’s requests and interests.

See more writing entries.