How Do Writers Write Fiction?
It Can Begin With an Image


How do writers write fiction? It begins with the writer’s style. There is no right or wrong way as long as it works. Many authors have their basic story in their heads and may construct an outline. They may then focus on one aspect in detail:

  • Plot
  • Genre
  • Twists
  • Ending
  • Setting
  • Tension
  • Betrayal
  • Dialogue
  • Suspense
  • Characters

How do writers write fiction? Some begin with the setting, like me. For this article, I will start with the setting. Sometimes a picture will inspire me to write a story. Other times, I have a story in mind, and I find a picture to help with more detail.

Stone knows the value of the setting in a story and clearly explains it here:

Setting can also establish mood or tone (use a setting like the Great Depression Dust Bowl to magnify a sense of despair and loss), lend tension or suspense (set your story on a rumbling volcano or in Chicago hours before the Great Fire), increase conflict (use war as a background event) or mark the genre (set your science fiction novel on a planet ruled by intelligent apes). (60)

The power of the setting is often overlooked by writers, but you must give it the attention it deserves.

In a creepy story, for instance, the setting needs to have darkness to it, both physically and in tone. Although you may not have pictures in your story, having a picture before you will instill in you a certain mood that will prompt you to use creative words.

Creepy house in the woods

What words come to mind when you see the above scene? Does one of your characters live here, the bad guy, maybe? What takes place here, a kidnapping? 

Perhaps an old man lives here who’s had a rough ride through life. He wants to be left alone. But he’s not completely lost because the grass is green, inspiring hope and life.

A narrow path leads to the house. Not many people come here. The four-eyed windows still want to see some of the world. The house itself broods. The trees on the right side in the back keep their distance from the house as if not wanting to be associated with it.

When do writers write fiction? They write when strongly motivated. And pictures and scenes strongly motivate.

Take a moment and see what the picture below tells you. You don’t have to search for words. Let them come to you; don’t stop the flow. Sometimes a picture can almost write the story for you.

Couple beneath trees

Perhaps this story can be a love triangle. Let’s call them Anna and Greg. They stroll hand in hand beneath a feathery canopy. They approach a bush that flashes a touch of pink that attests to their love.

But wait! Unknown to them, a figure marches purposefully a few paces behind them. He is Jeff, Anna’s boyfriend!!!

 A story must have interest, a twist of some kind, which thwarts the mundane and the element of predictability. The picture below can be the fodder for many stories. How do writers write fiction? They write based on the creative marbles that roll about in their heads. 

Teacher with apples

Here’s my take on the above scene . . .

Mrs. Olsen is delighted to see the green apple that her student is about to present to her. Many students bring her apples, but only one student knows the best ones. This bright boy is from her nearby village. They have much in common.

After class, Mrs. Olsen slices the green apple gingerly until she spots what she's looking for. It’s nestled at the core, drunk with the sweet moistness of the pectin. It curlicues its whitish form around her finger as she plucks it out. She studies it only for a moment before tossing the worm into her mouth. She savors it while gathering her belongings and heading home to her village.

How Do Writers Write Fiction? Sometimes They Write Their Stories in a Screenplay

Girl doing yoga poses

The above setting inspires me to write more in-depth material for my screenplay. Notice that the setting creates a certain mood. This helps to alleviate writer's block.



A slim figure stands unmoving atop a boulder, arms raised as if beseeching direction from the sky. The figure stands in a deep lunge, head back, doing a Warrior One pose. The figure, 11-year-old TANYA, then reverses into Warrior Two. At length, she straightens and sits cross-legged on the boulder.   

Tanya’s two-year-old black terrier, GOODKNIGHT, a real cutie, stands on his own boulder close to Tanya’s. His tail wags and his tongue lolls from the corner of his mouth.


It’s time for class, GoodKnight. Do you need to get a drink of water or go potty? 

When GoodKnight makes no move to do either, Tanya, in yoga pants, a tank top, and a bandanna that covers her ears, stands atop the boulder. Tanya’s Warrior One pose is textbook, and at length, she comes out of it with grace and faces forward.


Thank you all for coming to my class. It’s important to understand balance and poise. In Warrior One pose, you have both.

She pauses, making sure she’s not going too fast for her class. 


We are warriors who practice offensive as well as defensive maneuvers. When on the offense, only take back what’s yours.


Using defense, protect yourself and your property using the least amount of force. In either situation, we are to aim for balance and peace.

Five SPARROWS CHATTER LOUDLY on a nearby branch. Tanya scowls, places her hands on her hips, and says to them . . .


Quiet, please! Although we’re outside, use your inside voices during class.

One bird, perhaps too sensitive at being called out, flies away. 


A Zen Proverb describes the mind as a mad monkey. And Buddha says the monkey mind is due to distraction. 

She pauses for effect.


So I say to you, when you use offensive and defensive maneuvers, do not be distracted. A true warrior will not let the mad monkey mind throw her off balance. 

Tanya gazes at her class. We see that it consists of GoodKnight, four birds, and three squirrels.

GoodKnight springs to his feet and, as if on cue, stretches his front legs out, positions his head down, and his rump high in the air. TANYA APPLAUDS.


Class, GoodKnight just gave a perfect example of the Downward Dog pose!!! Everyone, practice your poses for our next class. Do not be mad monkeys. Be at peace.

Tanya puts the palms of her hands together at her chest with fingers beneath her chin, bends forward, and ends her class with . . .



How do writers write fiction? It depends on the speed and the size and the quality of the marbles that roll around in their heads.

Images: Dream by Wombo

Stone, T. (2006). Novelist's boot camp: 101 ways to take your book from boring to bestseller. Writer's Digest Books.

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