At the Maui Writers Conference, bestselling thriller writer Steve Berry says there are eight key rules that all writers must know and follow:
1. There are no rules. You can do anything you want as long as it works.
2. Don’t bore the reader. You can bore the reader in a sentence, in a paragraph, by misusing words, poorly choosing words, using the wrong length, etc.
3. Don’t confuse the reader. Don’t misuse point of view. Don’t do too much at once.
4. Don’t get caught writing. Don’t let you, the author, enter the story. (E.g., “And he never would see Memphis again.” How would anyone other than the author know that the character would never see Memphis again?)
5. Shorter is always better. Write tight. It makes you use the best words in the right way.
6. Don’t lie to the reader. It’s OK to mislead, but don’t lie. If you say the character’s motivation is A and it turns out to be B (and you haven’t foreshadowed it at all), the reader will feel cheated.
7. Don’t annoy the reader. Don’t use names that are hard to pronounce or write choppy sentences throughout the entire book. It keeps people from getting close to your characters.
8. You must tell a good story. Bad writing can be forgiven with a good story. A bad story with the most beautiful writing cannot.
What to know what plots work best in novels? Consider:
20 Master Plots
Also check out these items from the Writer’s Digest’s collection:
Writer’s Digest Elements Of Writing Fiction: Beginnings, Middles & Ends
Writer’s Digest Elements Of Writing Fiction: Scene & Structure
Writer’s Digest Elements Of Writing Fiction: Conflict, Action & Suspense
Writer’s Digest Elements Of Writing Fiction: Description
Writer’s Digest Elements Of Writing Fiction: Characters & Viewpoint
Writer’s Digest No More Rejections
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Writer’s Digest Magazine One-Year Subscription
Writer’s Digest 10 Years of Writer’s Digest on CD: 2000-2009