Start Writing Fiction: Building a Story by T.L. Hicks

This is the fourth installment of the Start Writing Fiction series by my friend T.L. Hicks. She is a writer and my editor on Coffee House Writers. You can read the rest of the story here.

Start Writing Fiction: Building a Story by T.L. Hicks

Welcome to the fourth installment of the Start Writing Fiction series. Now we know what fiction is, how to get into the habit of writing, and got a taste of how editing and revising is helpful, we will now learn how to build our world. Creating your story is fun and exciting. But there are times it can become frustrating. One thing you need to remember, DO YOUR RESEARCH.

Early on I mentioned to you about keeping a journal. A private place to write your story ideas and your observations. By looking at your journal, you will see story ideas come from anywhere. From observing people, news, and personal experiences. Inspiration can come from your friends, work, from other authors, television shows, song lyrics, and movies.

Building your journal

Your journal should be full of great ideas and a few stories, thanks to the previous writing prompts from the previous installments in the Start Writing Fiction series. Your journal can act as inspiration when you run into the fearful writer’s block we get from time to time. Your journal should be full of many things, like:

  • General notes
  • Sensory observations (Sight, Hearing, Taste, Smell, and Touch)
  • People watching
  • Expanding vocabulary
  • Facts
  • Inspiration from quotes, movies, books, people, music, or television
  • Inspiration from images
  • Descriptions of characters
  • Descriptions of settings
  • Research notes on locations and time periods
  • Notes on plot lines


Stories must be realistic. To do so, you must do your research. Take the story I am working on, Hell’s Half Acre. My story is a period piece (the 1880’s). I needed to research to make sure I get the clothing, use of language, buildings, and attitude of the era. Even more so, the setting of the town in Illinois needs to “fit in” with the time, this also includes weather conditions.

Helen Benedict wrote, “… when I read a novel set in Berkeley, California, a city I know well. On the U.C. Berkeley campus is a well-known landmark called Sather Gate, which is merely two ornate metal pillars, not a gate at all. But in this novel, the author swung the gate closed and even locked it. I almost threw the book away. I felt the author had violated her contract with me, her reader. She had closed the nonexistent gate either because she was too lazy to check if it could be closed, or because—and this was worse—she chose to ignore reality for the sake of her plot. And that felt like a cheat.”

There are many ways you can conduct your research: [Read More]


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