All good things must come to an end, and so it is that we have our conclusion…
Before ending, however, I'll give you a few basic ideas to keep in mind, along with the items that have already been listed.
Mainly, please note that this is by no means a complete list of the 'technical stuff' that you can do to improve your writing. However, please don't just ignore it. This can truly improve your writing a great deal. Take advantage of this fact.
Also, note that a good number of the suggestions in here are based off of personal experience and opinion; other people have different opinions. If you're looking for further advice and/or a different point of view on some of the tips in this guide, I recommend that you go read the reviews. Some of my wonderful reviewers have given CCs that I have not directly put into the guide, simply because our opinions differed or I couldn't figure out how to work their thoughts in; however, if you want a different viewpoint, you might want to see what they had to say!
Now, onto the list of more general things to consider:
1) Edit. Edit, edit, edit, edit, edit, edit. Usually, it's easier to edit efficiently if you're only concentrating on editing one particular thing at a time. Therefore, first, go through and edit in oodles of descriptive detail. Make sure everything is crystal clear to the reader, as well as to you.
Because reworking things to have the various sentence openings will take the most rephrasing, that should be what you do during your second round of editing. Once you're done that, you can work through steps 3-5, editing as you go.
Do not be afraid to edit. Editing is fun, really, if you look at it the right way. Rather then viewing it as a boring task, look at it as a way to retell your story, using a different technique. Because that's essentially what you're doing when you're editing—changing the words to tell the story in another, hopefully better way.
2) Edit some more. Yes, that's right. Edit your little heart out, read the reviews, and edit some more. I'm serious. Can you tell I love editing? Just because something is already posted to FP doesn't mean that you can't edit it at all—especially for small things, such as correcting grammar or spelling.
3) Read a lot. Keep an open mind while you do so. The more you read, the more tips and tricks you'll pick up—and the more you'll know what not to do. As you read, compare that author's work to yours. What do you do better? What could you improve upon that they do well?
4) Don't give up—stick with it. Writing is a learning process, and no one ever becomes a master writer. Who is a good writer and who is not is a matter of opinion. So long as you work at it and take constructive criticism into account while writing, you will eventually get better. It might be awhile before you recognize it, but you will.
(If you're like many beginning authors, within a year you'll probably look back on something you wrote and go, "Ew! I can't believe I wrote that!" The initial learning curve is fairly steep. But don't be discouraged!)
5) Don't be shy! If you've got something you think you might like to post here, then put it up. If it really needs work, then some people will tell you that and you can work on it. But don't ever let your fear of 'not being good enough' keep you from getting feedback on something that you enjoy.
Also, on that note, try to avoid saying in your summary that sounds like, "My first piece…uhh, I know it's bad, but read it anyway?" That's not a very encouraging thing for a reader to be told. Maybe put a blurb about being a new writer in your profile, but in the summary, I don't want to hear that even the author thinks it's a terrible story.
If you happen to find yourself to be overly cocky and arrogant, feel free to ignore point 5 completely. Remember, this is a learning process. Becoming the 'best you could ever be' is something of a myth—people won't know what the 'best you could ever be' is until after you're dead, and then it's a bit late for you.
6) Enjoy what you do. I mean enjoy, not just have fun with it. Surprisingly enough (to some), you can be happy without having fun. Accept the good with the bad, and move on, but if you ever find yourself truly angry or fed up with something you're writing (because you can't get it the way you want it, etc)…take a break. Don't do it if it makes you utterly miserable.
This does not mean that if part of a story saddens you, you should stop. Sometimes, stories are sad. That's because though they might be fiction, they are ultimately created off of elements that are in real life (I'm not talking about sci-fi spaceships; I'm talking about friendship, betrayal, happiness, death, poverty, and wealth). Real life isn't all fun and games. But then again, there's that difference between having fun and enjoying yourself.
7) Edit. Have I mentioned that before?
Good luck to you all!
"So long, farewell, I bid you all adieu,
To yeu, and yeu, and yeu and yeu and yeu…"
- The Sound of Music