1. Read everything in the bookstore. Romance. Science fiction. Fantasy. Erotica. Autobiographies. Magazines. Journals. Read everything you can get your hands on. See what different voices are out there. Don’t stick to reading the genre you write in. Read everything, because everything can teach you something.
2. Examine every story you come across. When you’re binging a series you love, stop every once in a while to ask yourself why you love it so much. Write down your favorite quotes. Figure out what draws you to each character. Pay attention to what plot points are happening at what point in the story. And do the same when you’re reading. Scribble down notes about when you can’t put the book down (and why) and scribble down notes about when you’re getting bored (and why).
3. Don’t worry about whether your story has been done before because everything has been done before. Instead, worry about making it your story. Don’t mimic another author’s voice or try to copy their characters. As much as you admire their work, you have to make your own work. As long as your story is your own creation, it will naturally be fresh and new.
4. Do your research in order to make your story more believable. Even if you’re creating a fantasy world in your novel, it’s important to do your research. You’re always going to have to pull pieces of reality into your story, whether it’s knowing what kind of treatment a certain injury would need or what type of slang was used at a certain point in history. Google is your best friend.
5. Write something that you would personally be excited to read. It’s great if you’re knowledgable about the market, but trends are constantly shifting. You probably shouldn’t write something based on what you think is going to sell or receive the most views. You should write something that brings out your passionate side, something that you have a strong opinion on, something that gets you excited to put your fingers on the keyboard. That way, even if nobody else reads it, at least you had a good time writing it.
6. Be careful with your words. Don’t use too many unnecessary words. Don’t space apart phrases when contractions would make your sentence flow better. Don’t overload your story with adjectives, don’t use too many exclamation points, and don’t use too many passive words. But don’t be afraid to break rules, either.
7. Understand editing isn’t optional. It doesn’t matter how brilliantly you write. Your first draft is going to have plot holes and one-dimensional characters and unneeded paragraphs of description. You should pat yourself on the back after finishing your first draft because you’ve accomplished something magical, but you’re not done yet. You still have a long way to go.
8. Put your work out in the world. Don’t be scared to show your family or friends or strangers on the internet what you’ve accomplished. They might be able to point out mistakes you’ve missed. Or they might be able to buy you a drink to celebrate your hard work. Either way, it’s important to finish what you’ve started and share what you’ve completed.