This post for some, might seem a tad provocative and controversial in content!
But, here's advice on improving one's writing, and straight from a top-class editor's mouth.
So you want to be a novelist?
1) Forget 'How To Books' on writing a bestseller.
2) Read, read and read again books from Chaucer to Dickens to the latest top 100 bestsellers.
3) Write from the heart. Write, write and write again.
4) Read your manuscript until your eyes bleed. Make sure there are no typos and spelling mistakes.
5) Make sure to send it to a publisher who publishes your chosen genre.
As I see it, that's the best advice ever. But then, I'm an avid reader and always have been. I can't see the point in all the "How To Books" that are out there. Yes, such books pinpoint specifics as to how the How To authors' express themselves with words/style (voice) etc, in novels, but most of these books enforce the idea that there are rules and regulations within writing, which seemingly change with the wind. What might be in vogue for a few years (1st person POV) within say YA novels, could well change a year hence and leave those who've crafted the art of writing from one character perspective utterly in limbo. The getting inside two MC heads much less easy, because suddenly the author is faced with multiple viewpoint, which to others will be second nature.
Being a woman there are times when as an author I have to think male perspective! Yes, I can ply my hubby for his perspective on certain things, because let's face it men don't ncessarily think differently than women but they don't say things quite as openly as women do. Men are more guarded, especially the loner types, whereas group mentality can appear more open but is often tainted by peer pressure influence and therefore what is said may not reflect a character's inner thoughts.
To understand male desires and frusrations is quite difficult for a woman to quantify, but after reading "The Magus" by John Fowles, a novel about a man's inner desires and written 1st person POV, I felt I better understood how to express male perspective on sex, desire, male frustrations and associated consequences. So, yes, I think the best way to improve one's writing is to read the broadest spectrum of novels possible. It's not all about analysis of house style, writer voice and overall format, it's a way of feeling the writer ground beneath one's feet and finding one's writer path.
So why do some romance publishers always say on submission pages "The best way to know what it is we look for in a romance novel, is to read a selection of our books from the line you propose to write for" ? Great marketing strategy is that, and in turn creates tunnel vision of a wouldbe novelist lured by seeming high chance of publication without an agent's guiding hand. But, there's nothing worse than reading a book where a so-called arrogant hero thinks and reveals inner self via thoughts and woman talk!!! ;)