Everybody has at least 10 good rules, hints, ideas, etc. for improving writing.
So, why do this all over again?
How many good rules are there for Fiction Writers? More than you or I could count, no doubt.
Still, these rules have served me well, and continue to do so.
Allow me to share:
- Your characters may not know how to spell (when writing), but they don’t misspell spoken words. Writing in dialect is tricky. If you’re not sure, practice first, try it out on your reader friends, don’t do it until you’re ready.
- Misspellings have a place, but it is ONLY if you are showing something a character writes.
- Present tense is tricky, especially in the first person. If you insist on doing it, read several, and I mean SEVERAL books written that way, and try to catch the author up. If you can do it for published books, think twice.
- Dialogue should sound like speaking, but not like writing. People do not normally speak in complete sentences, especially among friends. Formal speech is for speech-making, not daily conversation. On the other hand, most daily conversation would be boring to the average reader. Boil it down. Make it simple, and straight-forward.
- Yes, Virginia, the first sentence of your novel IS very important. Even if you don’t care all that much about a first sentence, you can count on it that agents, editors, and marketing managers live for them.
- Starting your story with a long narrative is an excellent way to bore and chase your reader away. Put some action on the first page. Better still, put some action in the first sentence. In fact, eschew prologues and initial flashbacks. Hit the ground running and you are likely to hold your reader.
- If nothing happens that forwards the story while your character is en route to work, simply say, “he drove to work”. Describing the mundane is a pace killer.
- When writing action scenes: consider short paragraphs, short sentences, simple direct words.
- Description of a setting helps to create the mood, but don’t kill the pace of your work by dragging it out.
- Whenever you read a list of 10 rules for writing, only take the rules that work for you.
What “rules” would you add to this list? Which ones would you delete?