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  • Writer's pictureRachel Demeter

How to Write Fiction with Intention

Jean Valjean and the Bishop

I've always believed that great fiction is about intention and purpose. When you write with intention, your stories become powerful, engaging, and capable of leaving a lasting impact on your readers. In this blog, I'll share some actionable tips and detailed examples on how to write fiction with intention, from conducting research to crafting meaningful dialogue and everything in between!

Start with Purposeful Research

To write with intention, you need a solid foundation of knowledge. Research is the first step towards creating a story that feels authentic and resonates with your audience. Whether you're writing historical fiction, science fiction, or contemporary drama, thorough research is essential.

Example: If you're writing historical fiction set during World War II, dive into books, documentaries, and primary sources to understand the era's nuances. Interview veterans or survivors if possible, and visit relevant historical sites to immerse yourself in the world you're creating.

Develop Well-Defined Characters

Your characters are the heart of your story, and they should embody your intention. Start by asking yourself:

  • What motivates your characters?

  • How do their backgrounds shape their beliefs and actions?

  • What are their flaws and strengths?

By understanding your characters deeply, you can craft their journeys with intention.

Example: Let's say your character is a detective solving a series of murders. Instead of making them a flawless hero, give them personal demons or vulnerabilities that add depth and relatability. Perhaps they have a fear of failure or unresolved trauma from a previous case. These traits not only make your character more human but also drive their actions with a clear intention, adding complexity to the story.

Craft Purposeful Dialogue

Dialogue is a powerful tool for conveying intention. It should reveal character traits, advance the plot, and provide subtext and insight into relationships.

Example: Instead of using dialogue solely for exposition, make it reflect your characters' personalities and intentions. If you have two characters in a tense confrontation, consider their individual goals and motivations. Are they trying to gain an advantage, seek forgiveness, or express anger? The dialogue should not only move the plot forward but also showcase their conflicting intentions and emotions, creating a gripping scene that resonates with readers.

Show, Don't Tell

One of the golden rules of writing fiction with intention is "show, don't tell." Rather than outright stating facts or emotions, paint vivid pictures with your words.

Example: Suppose your character is nervous about an important job interview. Instead of saying, "She was incredibly nervous," show it through her actions and sensations. "Her hands trembled as she clutched the interview invitation, and her heart pounded like a drumroll before a grand performance." By showing, you immerse your readers in the experience, allowing them to feel the character's emotions and intentions, thus creating a deeper connection.

Consider Theme and Message

Every story carries a theme or message. To write with intention, you must be aware of what you want to convey.

Example: If your theme is "the power of hope," ensure that your characters' actions, dialogue, and outcomes align with this message. Create moments where hope prevails against adversity, and let your characters embody this theme. By consistently reinforcing your intention through character arcs and plot developments, your story will resonate more deeply with readers who connect with the underlying message.

Edit with Precision (and Purpose)

Writing with intention doesn't end with the first draft. In fact, the editing process is where your story can truly shine!

Example: Kill your babies! As you review your work, focus on deleting any scenes or details that don't contribute to your story's intention. Clarify dialogue to ensure it aligns with your characters' goals and motivations. Strengthen your theme by emphasizing key moments or symbols that reinforce your message. By meticulously editing your manuscript, you refine your story's intention and make it even more compelling, ensuring that every word serves a purpose.

Conclusion: How to Write Fiction with Intention

Writing fiction with intention is an art that requires dedication, research, and a keen understanding of your characters and theme. Whether you're crafting a thrilling mystery or a historical romance, the principles remain the same. Remember that your intention is the guiding star of your storytelling.

Happy writing!


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