What are female character cliches to avoid?

There are no cliches to avoid, male or female. None.

Cliches exist because they clue the reader into the character being described quickly and easily. That can be a good thing because it saves time and effort that can be put to better use telling the story.

The thing is, do a good job of describing your ‘cliche’ character. Don’t skimp and do delve deeply into your character.

Because then that cliche character won’t be a cliche after all, she’ll be a living, breathing, exciting example of a specific personality type.

I’m writing a novel and I’m finding it hard to make my chapters long enough, I’m currently on a 2 page long fight scene to start my book and I want to to at least break 4 pages, any ideas?

Common problem. Trust me on that.

Take a walk. Get away from your computer and stop staring at that dratted screen.

While walking and enjoying the weather and the trees and the beautiful birds overhead, think about your story. Dig deeper. Get inside the head of each and every protagonist in that fight scene.

What are they thinking? Why are they fighting? Do they really care? Let your mind wander and come up with whatever rises to the surface of your thoughts and don’t question your thoughts, just go with them.

Then, when you return to that dratted computer, remember your thoughts and you’ll probably discover that you have a lot more to say because you know your characters in that specific scene much better than you did before.

Maybe you’ll now describe more action because you’ll know what kind of action your protagonists might engage in. Maybe you’ll slip in some mini-flashbacks here and there to tell your reader why and how they are doing what they are doing.

Or something else that I can’t even imagine but that you can.

Is it better to get all of your ideas out and write a novel quickly, or to spend years in the process of curating the story and its elements?

Depends.

Some writers work best slowly and carefully, deciding each and every element and making sure the whole things works together.

Others work best just sitting down and letting it all come out in one huge, whoosh.

It’s a personality thing, not a writer thing. So go with whatever works for you.

How do you write fiction with memorable dialogue?

You cross out, delete, or otherwise remove anything that’s extraneous.

When you finish, you go back over the dialogue and mentally check that it truly does say what you want your character to say and not one single word more.

In other words, your characters speak up and then shut up.

Why is there a need of inserting sensory details in a creative literary work? How does it affect the interest or readers in a piece of work?

Because most readers have had similar experiences and the evocation of the senses brings back those experiences and makes the story more real, sharper, and more personal.

And that’s the goal of every writer. To bring the reader into the story.

In writing fiction, are flashbacks a good or bad way of revealing a main character’s tragic past?

Flashbacks work and are often essential for the reader to understand what’s going on and the actions of the character in question.

I learned what I consider to be a better way when writing short stories. Because short stories are short. Every word is important. Can’t waste words on long, involved flashbacks.

But a writer can do what I call mini-flashbacks. A sentence or two inserted in the middle of an action to give a reason for that character’s actions.

Such as a quick comment by a super-macho hero who’s burping a baby found in the middle of a battlefield while he sings a lullaby as bullets whiz all around that he was the oldest of six kids and knows all about babies and that they need security and burping. Does the job, doesn’t use up too many words, lets the writer get on with the story while keeping the character in character.

As someone born in 1996 how do I write a story set in the late 1970s?

The 1970s is a recent enough period that many people from that time are still around and in sound mental health. And most of them would love to sit around and talk your ear off about their lives.

Which is wonderful because you’ll get a real feel for that time.

And is terrible because you’ll only get a feel for their tiny part of that era.

So do your research and talk to people from that era and then take a mental step back and put it all in perspective.

Then look at the story you’re telling and use whatever helps. And ONLY what helps because it’s so easy — and literary death — to include too much detail. The background is only important to the extent that it helps tell the story.

What is the worst fiction writing advice you’ve heard?

The worst fiction writing advice I’ve ever heard —- and the best fiction writing advice I’ve ever heard — is to write about what you love.

It’s very easy to get so caught up in the enjoyment of writing about something you love that you can go on forever and bore your reader to death.

It’s also some of the best writing you can do — if you follow all the advice you’ve ever heard on the craft of writing — because your heart will be in it and that alone will make it wonderful.

Is it possible to write a novel or short story that doesn’t perpetuate stereotypes?

 It’s not a matter of stereotypes.

It’s a matter of whether the characters are described well or not so well. Good writing will turn them into archetypes and become the best and most representative of the group they belong to, whatever that group may be. Poor writing will make them stereotypes worthy of laughter and readers who put the book down without finishing it.

The thing is, if your characters are representatives of a group, they can be recognized easily and quickly by the reader and that’s a great help to the writer. Less work, less stress, fewer words for the reader to wade through to get to the story.

Use that quick recognition. It’s valuable.

Just make sure that you do your job as a writer well so your character is an archetype instead of a stereotype.

What’s the importance of making story writing a hobby?

When I first started writing as a career, I found that I ‘wrote out’ a lot of things from my past. Okay, I’ve had an easy, comfortable life but, like with everyone, there were a few things that were best gotten rid of mentally. And those memories made great stories.

Then I became a pro and learned that part of being a pro is mentoring new writers and that’s when I learned that what I’d done in the beginning is the norm and is done so much that I now (privately!) call the first part of any writer’s professional journey the ‘cathartic’ phase of their career. And those memories make great stories.

I can’t count the times I’ve read stuff by a new/emerging writer that was based on their life and that was something they had to get out of their system before going on to other subjects. And some of the best writers in history never made the transition. Think Sinclair Lewis and other American writers of that same period. And they were great stories.

The thing is, I’ve seen the same thing happen among people who enjoy writing as a hobby with no intention of ever becoming pros. Because everyone has something to write about that’s based on their life.

Because writing is cathartic. And healing. And even if you had a wonderful life, remembering all that stuff from your past is also fun. And makes great stories even if you are the only person to read those stories.

And when that cathartic phase of your writing journey is completed and you are ready to go beyond your own past and present, stretching your imagination and letting it soar is fun! And makes for great stories even if you are the only person who ever reads them.