Imply Backstory. The backstory of your characters is way too important to let it appear in a boring infodump. Details can imply a lot of backstory without taking away from the momentum of the story.
Bring Readers Into The World Of Your Story. Details are the way readers see, feel, hear, taste, and smell the world of your characters. Use enough details to build a believable and concrete setting.
Set the Mood Of A Scene. The right details can change the mood of a scene. A springtime day described as “fresh and damp” will feel different from one described as “smelling like mud”. The details you choose should do double-duty: they should describe and give readers a clue as to how they should be feeling about the scene.
Reveal Character. How your characters speak to each other (and to themselves) can show a lot about their inner realities. Whether your character is cautious or careless, educated or illiterate, their state of mind can be revealed through dialogue.
Dialogue Can Convey Backstory. Cleverly written dialogue can give readers some of the backstory you want them to know while still sounding natural! It’s much more exciting to hear about events from your characters’ own mouths than to get a huge chunk of narrative backstory.
Dialogue Can Move Plot Forward. Having your characters make and break promises, argue, and lie to each other is one of the best ways you can complicate their lives and keep readers interested! See how much you can move the plot forward using your characters’ words and what they do and don’t say to each other.
Consistent Point of View Can…
Help Readers Feel Connected To Your Characters. By showing readers what your viewpoint character wants and not letting the thoughts or emotions of other characters intrude, you ensure that readers will relate most strongly to your protagonists. Use as many viewpoint characters as you want – tons of fantastic novels feature multiple main characters – but don’t hop from one viewpoint to another within the same scene unless it’s absolutely unavoidable.
Crank Up Tension. Limiting what readers know will make them want to find out what your mysterious secondary characters are all about. It can create an aura of dread if your characters are in danger, a mood of curiosity if they are speculating about the colorful neighbors, or any number of emotions. Holding back some of the motivations and maybe even the true nature of your non-viewpoint characters can add the spice of suspense to your book.
What are your favorite ways to make your fiction unforgettable? I'd love to see your ideas!