Are you trying to write a story, it the best and perfect place to begin your writing career. Why?
Because it show the dilemmas, obstacles and questions you will encounter when creating friction of lengths
1) Time and Place is simple in theory.
You use elements of light and movement, the color of leaves outside, weather, complaints about weather, and other such things to put your reader into the scene. In fact, of course, it can get tricky. And it can be a headache to track.
2) Characters shouldn’t need much explanation.
They show up. They argue with you. They screw up the story and do what they want rather than what you want. And then you kill them. ‘Nuff said
Dialogue is where you try to make conversations sound real and relaxed without making them real, because real conversations are rife with ums and ahs and uhs and frequently rotate around minutiae and never get to the point.
You can use bits of real conversation, but only with characters you don’t like or want your reader to like. Truth is, we all sound better in our heads than we do on a tape recorder.
4) Action is making things happen
It can be little things, like picking up a pair of scissors from a table and dropping them into a pocket. It can be big things, like running from a psychopath wielding a pair of scissors. It can be boring things, like drinking coffee or tea while reading news on a computer screen.
It can have nothing to do with characters: blood dripping down a wall is action. It moves, right? That’s action. Movement. Every scene needs to have something that moves, or it runs the risk of losing the reader.
Think of keeping the attention of a cat by jiggling a string, and then remember that as mammals, we have the same wiring. Jiggle a string at us from time to time to keep our attention.
5) Description goes wrong on two ends
When you have too much, and when you don’t have enough. Either will wreck your scene, but only the first one is likely to also kill your reader. If you err, err on the side of too little description, because it is psychologically easier to add than to subtract while doing revisions. Description also goes wrong in the middle, where you don’t know what things are like (but think you do from seeing them on TV or reading other books), and so describe them incorrectly.
This is why you need access to things like cloth scraps and piles of arcane tools and emergency rooms and roughing-it camping trips…and access to people who have done things you haven’t done and can’t reach for the really tough details. I won’t be saying anything else about this part of description.
It is your job as a writer to get the details right, and to double-check your facts. You’ll always end up with errors, but strive to make the fewest you can.
6) Sensory details
Sensory details are the things your character sees, feels, tastes, hears, smells, or gets through any sort of sixth sense. And if the character isn’t there to sense them, the omniscient narrator is. You should put your best effort into engaging some of your reader’s senses in every scene, even in very tiny ways. The subconscious mind picks up even subtle sensory cues and accepts them as real, and this drags your reader into the story, instead of letting him sit above it.
Pacing can be fairly hard to get right, but getting it right is a learnable skill. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the length of the chapter, and everything to do with the reader’s perception of the passage of time as he reads through the chapter. Long chapters can fly, short chapters can drag. The exercises on pacing, however, are a lot of fun.
Ah, backstory. All the stuff that happened before your story started, all the world that encompasses your story, all the history, grandeur, tragedy, and humor. And the temptation for every writer, myself included, is to jam as much of that wonderful stuff into the story as possible.
It is a temptation that must be resisted at all costs. After I nearly broke Charles Ryan, editor of Aboriginal SF, back when I was first starting out – his rejection letter on one story read “Much, much, much, much too much exposition,” – I learned a few tricks
Conflict is change. It can be good change, or bad change. It can be direct or indirect. It can involve words spoken, physical action, or the simple movement of a bit of scenery from one side of a room to another.
It can be enormous, or so subtle the reader will only pick it up subliminally, and have a cool “ah-ha!” moment later when you come back to that tiny cue
There are only two absolutes about conflict:
First, every scene must have some conflict.
Second, the conflict must move the story forward.