1. If your work makes you feel—cry, laugh, explode—the chances are your reader will feel too.
2. Avoid delusions of literature. Too many fancy words get in the way of what’s going on and will make the action and characters harder to see.
3. You will write a lot of words that you don’t need as you get to know your characters. They can hold up the flow of the story. Cut ruthlessly.
4. Look for the sentences that should be paragraphs and the paragraphs that should be sentences. Look for the places where you’ve waffled on about something which you could deliver in a line, and look at where you’ve delivered something in a line which is worth expanding into a paragraph or scene.
5. When you start a story everything is provisional until you have finished it so don’t over polish your beginning – you may end up having to cut it anyway.
6. It’s better to push on to the end of something than agonise over sentences. The whole thing will need redrafting anyway. (I keep trying to tell myself this, but I still agonise over sentences, even in a first draft!)
7. When you think you have finished a piece, accept that the hard part now starts – turning the raw material into something better.
8. Avoid superfluous dialogue. Dialogue should tell the reader more about the character or move the plot forward. If it doesn’t, cut it.
9. Break up dialogue—you are not writing a movie script. Use actions or movement—but not too much or your readers will get dizzy.
10. Ditch unnecessary tags in dialogue—but don’t have your characters calling each other by name all the time (people don’t in ‘real life’)
And finally, here’s something I saw today on Facebook:
"Let the writer take up surgery or bricklaying if he is interested in technique. There is no mechanical way to get the writing done, no shortcut. The young writer would be a fool to follow a theory. Teach yourself by your own mistakes; people only learn by error. "
William Faulkner, The Paris Review (1956) much he admires the old writer, he wants to beat him."