Not all writing advice works for every writer. Take these ideas with a grain of salt. Try them, but if they don’t work for you, throw them out. Do what makes writing make sense for you.
Read It Out Loud
This may seem deceptively simple, but reading your work out loud can be very enlightening. Your ear will pick up on awkward phrasing that you might otherwise miss. If it sounds weird to say it out loud, you should change it.
Finish What You Start
If you never finish anything, chances are you’ll become really great at beginnings and be terrible at endings. When you write, practice finishing what you start that way you’ll practice everything.
Write What You Know – So Know Something
Most people get this piece of writing advice all wrong. You shouldn’t limit yourself to writing only about your life experiences. If your story is about pirates for example, learn to sail a boat. Find a captain to talk to. Do anything that will help get you in the mindset of your characters.
Do Something Unexpected
If you get stuck or your feel the momentum in your story lagging, do something the audience, the character, and maybe even you, as the author, aren’t expecting. The audience shouldn’t trust you. Leave them questioning everything.
Kill Your Darlings
That is, cut things from the story that don’t push the plot along, even if it’s the most beautiful thing you’ve ever written. Each paragraph, each sentence, even each word must serve the story and move it forward.
The Gun Must Go Off
Chekhov’s gun is a principle that says if a gun is introduced in the first act, it must go off by the third act. In other words, everything is circular. Elements introduced at the beginning should circle back around by the end. Nothing stands alone.
Stories Aren’t a Straight Line
Complicate things. Are things as bad as they can get? Make it worse. Do the characters think they’ve won? Maybe it’s a false victory. Keep the audience guessing.
Read Outside Your Genre
The old saying is true – not all readers are writers, but all writers should be readers. Expand your literary diet. If you write fantasy, read biographies. If you write westerns, read romances and so on. Be insatiable.
Characters Drive Plot
But the plot should not drive the characters. Audiences will begin to hate characters that make stupid decisions just because the plot forces them to. Plots rise out of human conflict. There’s always a question beating at the heart of a plot: what does the character want and why can’t she have it?
Sometimes the most obvious thing isn’t obvious at all. Writers write. The only way to get better at writing is to write. It’s not always bad to aim for quantity over quality, because eventually quality will come. Stop talking about writing and thinking about writing and just go do it.