Rules for your writing (not a mechanics post)

K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple Stupid! Twists and turns are fine, Riddles and intrigue are fine but the plot should evolve naturally not start out as a labyrinth!

Consider the story from the Protagonists Point of View.
Brainstorm your plot points from every angle. If there's a simpler, easier, or cheaper way to resolve a conflict, why didn't your character do that?
ACK I meant Antagonist not Protagonist! Dagnabit it's been one of those weeks.
I'm with Mitchell on that. Reading aloud will really change how you view your writing. I save it for final drafts when the story is in place and I'm working on the delivery.
I agree wholeheartedly.

Read aloud at least once a day. Not necessarily your own work but read something aloud every day. I read to my kids at bedtime, a chapter or two a night. Reading other people's words has made me very concious of how my words would sound if read aloud by someone else.
I recently read my kids The Phantom Tollbooth by Norman Juster (which was a lot funnier than I remember) but Juster has an annoying habit of just suddenly writing 'he said' after several lines of dialogue in which two or three people have spoken without any attributions - making it a bit of a bugger to work out who is actually speaking. Not so much of a problem when reading to yourself but annoying when you are 'doing the voices', as I tend to do when reading to the kids.
Reading aloud has made me much more careful about attributing voices when writing dialogue.

And reading aloud is also a hell of a good way of finding typos in your own stuff. It slows you right down, makes you look at the words. Changing the font helps too. If you're happy writing in a san serif font like Ariel, change the text to Times New Roman and read it aloud. I'm always horrified by the typos I spot in what I thought was a finished piece of text when I do this.

My other big one (though this may just be me correcting one of my own bad habits and of no use to anyone else), is to go through whatever I've written and clarify (if needed) every use of 'it' I come across.
Another, put to me by a friend who is an English teacher, is that, though reading is primarily a visual experience it should appeal to all the senses. Sound comes easy - all these 'He saids' littering the text - and some visual description seems to come as a natural requisite to most people when they write, but he reckons the other senses get neglected. He encourages people to get smell, taste, and feel in there too.

I haven't exactly made myself run a checklist every time I finish something - but it's a tempting idea.
With the way school and the interactions between my daughters and my niece while I babysit her for my sister in law have been going of late I have devised a new rule for my WIP.

-Everybody Dies-
Enjoy the content of your writing - If you're not enjoying it, assume other readers won't either.
The Golden Rule: Never let facts stand in the way of a good story.

Corollary: Never let rules stand in the way of a good story.
Enjoy the content of your writing - If you're not enjoying it, assume other readers won't either.

Or better yet, always assume that there will be people that don't like it. Nothing has ever been created that everybody loves. Accept that you will be criticised.
Very true Jake.

To follow on from that...

Expect and invite criticism. Use it for improving and gaining further experience.
Expect and invite criticism. Use it for improving and gaining further experience.

It's been my experience that you don't have to invite criticism; people feel obligated to give it to you even when you don't want it. :)
Heh, in that case Goldhawk, there's an obvious addition needed to my rule...

If criticism comes round uninvited, don't feel u have to offer it a cup of tea. :p
I have to plan everything out first. Do a plot... About 5 to 10k words, then once i've bullet points the plot I then break it up into chapters.

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