Stephen King gives great advice in this piece: Everything You Need to Know About Writing in 10 Minutes
Stephen King (Stephen King.com
) has published over 40 books and has become one of the world's most successful writers.
King's advice begins with a story about editing. Upon editing a first draft - eliminate the unneeded. Be concise. Reduce.
I had been writing first drafts of stories which might run 2,500 words. The second drafts were apt to run 3,300 words. Following that day (a story about his first writing boss's advice), my 2,500-word first drafts became 2,200-word second drafts. And two years after that, I sold the first one.
Here is his advice quickly:
1) Be talented. (here he is talking about what it takes to get published)
2) Be neat. Type. Double space. Use heavy white paper.
3) Be self critical. "If you haven't marked up your manuscript a lot, you did a lazy job. Only God gets things right the first time. Don't be a slob."
4) Remove every extraneous word. Be concise.
5) Never look at a reference book on a first draft. Good advice to avoid writer's block - just let it flow.
9. How to evaluate criticism (I love this) Show your piece to a number of people - ten, let us say. Listen carefully to what they tell you. Smile and nod a lot. Then review what was said very carefully. If your critics are all telling you the same thing about some facet of your story - a plot twist that doesn't work, a character who rings false, stilted narrative, or half a dozen other possibles - change that facet. It doesn't matter if you really liked that twist of that character; if a lot of people are telling you something is wrong with you piece, it is. If seven or eight of them are hitting on that same thing, I'd still suggest changing it. But if everyone - or even most everyone - is criticizing something different, you can safely disregard what all of them say.
Smart advice from someone who knows.