I've seen a few of these tips on writing floating around DA and I thought it was time I made one too. I do not have the answer for everything in writing and I cannot make your writing skills at the same level as mine but I can help you improve if you wish to.
Writing is both very complex and very simple. Some people naturally have talent and can write with ease but for others, it may take a very long time with the help and tips from English classes. When I took the time to think about why people like my writing to help me write these tips, I couldn't come up with one simple possibility that satisfied me, I came up with several possibilities that are my building blocks for my writing. And when I think about all of it, what I do is very complex. To me, it's one of the easiest things in the world. I am not here to tell you why it's easy otherwise I will probably have an essay as long as what some of my research essays should've been. I am here to give you all some basics of what I use.
What you need for writing a good story are these things:
1. Imagination This is the most important aspect of writing, it helps you come up with the plot and character development and so on.
2. Structure- How the plot comes together and the physical structure of the actual story such as punctuation, grammar, and how you connect the dots. Don't chat speak or slang unless if a character uses slang. You want this to look your best.
3. Knowledge- I find that basic knowledge of elements of writing, such as symbolism, allusions, vocabulary (this is very important when writing), etc. all help with the physical structure of the story. It gives it more imagery and makes the story more intriguing when used correctly and what you want to keep in mind is that you want your reader to want more, so keep it interesting with vocabulary and hints that could potentially mean bigger things further on in the story. And knowledge of the world or history also is vital to the plot but I shall get more into this in a little while.
4. Patience. Writing does take time and not everyone writes at the same pace. If you want to write, don't rush, take your time and build the story to your liking.
The first thing I think of when writing is 'What is the plot going to be like?' I think of it like a map. Start with the Exposition or the Introduction, then the Initial Incident which is an event that kick starts the plot, then comes the Rising Action or the conflict within the plot, and Climax or how the conflict is solved. Sometimes the map can be extended to more elements but this is the basic map for writing. When you are writing something like a oneshot, it can be difficult to come up with a short story that can be very interesting. Keep in mind of that mental map, write down your key points, then connect the dots. However, if you are doing a romantic fiction, try to avoid doing a basic 'boy meets girl and they fall in love within an hour and the end'. It may be cute and sweet but I personally think it's too fast, too unrealistic. If there is some background mentioned between them, then that is fine but there has to be more detail to make it interesting. Granted, there are situations and stories that do work out in this situation but there has to be some plot development.
After you figure out the plot, think of the setting and possible items or elements that can be introduced that can be vital to the plot. These elements can be stated outright or being presented as useless in the beginning but hinted to be more useful and later on it can give the plot a twist. When you think of setting, you want to stay as consistent as possible and this is where knowledge and imagination go hand in hand. Research what you can about that particular setting and keep it consistent all the way through. However if you don't have enough knowledge about something, make something up, make your own alternate universe or introduce a few different elements within the same universe within reason. There's a saying that I hear every so often: If you can't dazzle them with the truth, baffle them with bullshit.
The saying I just mentioned doesn't apply to everything in writing. Language, for example, isn't really something that you can fool around with unless you are actually making a new language within your story. When you add in foreign words or foreign language with no rhyme or reason for doing so, it makes the writing kind of sloppy or unrealistic. I have seen fan fictions where fans use 'Kawaii' 'Desu' and other Japanese words. The worst pet peeve I can think of is when there is a fan fiction that uses the Japanese or foreign names of characters when the characters themselves or the speaker is not foreign. It may be cute and all but unless the character or speaker is from a different nation and uses different terms, I strongly recommend that you DO NOT use those words.
After all of that stuff is over and done with you deal with the most important and in my opinion, the most fun part of the entire story: The characters. You can make up whatever character with no limits, I won't say anything against what someone has created, if that's what came from your mind, then that's fantastic. But know this: A good story has limits to characters. You can make characters be one of a kind, or blend in completely with the story but they have to be balanced out so that they don't become too perfect. By making a character too perfect or have extremely little flaws is called creating a Mary Sue or Gary Stu. I would suggest when you are trying to balance out your character regarding traits, keep it at a 2 to 1 ratio. So for every 2 good traits you give, you have to have 1 bad trait. Or vice versa, where you can give your character 1 good trait for every 2 bad traits. And if you are absolutely stuck on how to mold your character, base it off of some of your likes and traits or traits of your friends and family.
Once you have the characters, setting and plot figured out, you're pretty much good to go. However: there is something that you have to keep in mind and I think that it is extremely crucial which is respect. Respect for the audience. Respect for history. Respect for yourself. You have to make sure that your content is appropriate for most audiences and have the appropriate ratings when required. Check the rules for general guidelines on how things should be marked so the audience has an idea of what to expect. If you are doing a fan fiction that has historical references, such as the Holocaust, Holodomor or the Vietnam War or some extremely dark chapter in history, you want to think about what you are writing and consider the fact that these were tragedies and people have suffered in ways that you might not be able to imagine. Every story has some allusion, or reference, to history and not every part is happy and bright. Granted, there might have been some sweet stories in between and may have had a happy ending but when you look at the bigger picture, tragic situations are not to be messed with. If you throw things together just because they look cool and you want to create your own fantasy, that's disrespectful to the audience, history and yourself. Not everyone may share or support your thoughts and if you throw events together without any second thought just because they look cool or you can make it look cool when they were actually something that no one desired at any point in time, it's insulting and disrespectful because it is interpreted as a joke. And that can reflect badly on you because you may be seen as someone who has no respect for anything and that you only want to display crude fantasies. This is critically important to avoid because it may send a negative message to readers, especially young readers who may not know the true history and they may not care.
Your story can reflect something about you, whether be it a moral value or how much imagination you have. Negative messages may only be seen in one way while positive messages can be interpreted in an infinite number of ways. This is an author's way of saying 'This is what is in my heart, this is what I have learned and what is in my head.' If you can get one person to see a positive message that you give to the world, that is an accomplishment itself. If you can get it through with your imagination, creativeness, knowledge, common sense, and the proper usage of words then that is an outstanding accomplishment.