There are a gazillion rules about writing. A quick search on the internet will cause your eyes to glaze over and your heart to fall. Trust me, I’ve tried it. And that’s not even including the grammar rules. *Shakes head at the sheer number of grammar rules that contradict themselves* I’ll be totally honest here. I thought I knew how to write when I started publishing. Yeah, I was naïve. Sure, I understood the basics, but there’s one thing about novel writing I didn’t understand before I started churning out books. Not at all. There are some writing rules you have to learn by doing. I understand all about having to learn to shoot a weapon by shooting a weapon and not just watching a YouTube video. But writing? Nah. That I can just study and then go out and do it. *Snorts*
- Show not tell. Go ahead and roll your eyes. I do every single time I hear this criticism. Duh! I know to show and not tell. It’s like the number one rule for writers. Turns out I was wrong. The more I write the more I realize how exactly I’ve been telling and not showing. It’s freaking hard. It’s way easier to just tell, which makes telling oh so tempting. And once you get into the rhythm of telling, it’s hard to get out of it. This is where good editing (both your own and by a professional) comes in. Swallow your pride and listen to reviewers, beta readers, and editors. Most importantly, just keep practicing.
- Dialogue Tags. This one pisses me off. I get a lot of comments about my dialogue tags. But I don’t use ‘he said’ ‘she said’! I may shout that while stomping my foot. How in the heck can you tell who’s talking if you don’t use tags? My books (especially my cozy mysteries) tend to be full of groups of troublemakers women. I need to use the dialogue tags so the readers don’t get confused about who’s talking, don’t I? Um, no. Turns out you don’t.
- How to tell a joke. I know how to tell a joke. At a party, that is. In a book, making a reader laugh is a totally different expertise. To be honest, I didn’t learn this from practicing so much as from reading supposedly funny books that were simply not funny. The best way to practice this is to read out loud. Sure, you sound like a total idiot, but better to sound like an idiot for a couple days of editing than have a book flop.
So, keep writing folks. You’re only getting better 😉