Rule #1 -Spelling-
If one wants to seriously send anything to a publisher or agent, they must know how to SPELL! So many times have I come across profiles that indicate they are going to send their story to a publisher and when I scroll down I see the TITLE spelled wrong! Not to mention a badly written summary with even more spelling mistakes. This is not acceptable if you really want a publisher to take their precious time and read through your story.
If you can't spell, use a dictionary, use a thesaurus, use spell check, anything! Just re-read what you wrote and look for words spelled wrong. It easy! Yet I see so many people, particularly those whom want to be an author, skip this entire process.
Rule #2 -Grammar-
Same incident as above. So many claim they will end up with a published novel when they are finished typing their story, yet I see misused semicolons, virtually non existence of commas and every second sentence starts with either And or But. How do you expect a publisher to read your story if they can't understand what you wrote?
Read out loud! If what you just wrote sounds funny, awkward or incomplete then re work it. Or try printing it out. It's easier on the eyes to stare at a piece of paper rather than a monitor. This will help with finding spelling errors as well.
Rule #3 -"Show, Don't Tell"-
It is rare that I stumble upon a story that does not include the narrator simply explaining to the readers everything that goes on in their story. This is not a good writing technique. If you want your story to seem realistic to your readers, SHOW us what is going on through descriptions, actions and dialogue. Simply stating everything in a bland matter is very boring.
He has blonde hair. His eyes are green. He has a bad temper. He uses a long sword.
Too often do I see this in stories and can barely find the strength to continue reading. Incorporate what you want us to see in your story. Don't pause everything, don't hold up the flow of your story to describe someone, SHOW us.
The tall figure walked into the light of the fire, making his ashen hair glow from the flames. He scanned the campfire, his green eyes reflecting his urgency, and found his comrade sitting to the far left. As he walked over, a young scout whispered to another, about the curse of the long sword that was strapped across the man's back. The tall figure glanced over to the scout with anger clearly reflected in his eyes. The young boy fell silent and turned from the man's heated stare. The figure then walked up to his comrade and ordered his presence at the briefing within the hour. He then disappeared in the shadows, his cape ruffling in the light breeze.
Doesn't that sound more interesting? More complete? Smoother?
Well, I thought so.
Rule #4 -"Less is More"-
Why is it that they find it interesting to write two pages of block paragraphs about what a bedroom looks like?
When the reader knows something as simple as what is in a room, you don't need to go into gruesome detail about the bed, the wood it's carved from and every location of every item. You only should be describing things that are unique or important to the plot or characters. So move on to the plot!
Rule #5 -Organization-
Part one: Paragraphs
When you begin to talk about a new topic, start a new paragraph. Setting, weather, characters, plot, history, dialogue, anything, it should all be separated into organized paragraphs so that the reader can understand what is going on and has an easier time to read the text.
It's just common sense.
Part two: Dialogue
Any time someone starts talking you should cut to the next line. It is ridiculous that I see stories with multiple people talking and the plot crammed into one huge paragraph. Half the time they forget to close their quotations which confuses you even more. They probably couldn't tell from the immense amount of text starring back at them.
So please, if you want someone else to read your work, make sure it is readable so that we can understand what is going on.
Rule #6 -Thesaurus-
I take it there are many whom have never heard of this glorious item. It basically takes a word you are looking for, like for instance, dark and gives you other words that mean the same thing. Such as: dim, shady, murky, gloomy, mysterious, evil, night, dusk, and so on. This will help to give your story a smoother flow and keep from repeating words which gets tiring to read. Most programs now come with a built in thesaurus, convenient huh?
Rule #7 -Clichés-
How many times do I have to read a story about a farm boy who has never been out on his own whom ends up saving the world from either an evil king or a dark wizard, which was prophesized by an ancient scroll or being? Be original, I'm sure you can think of something else. Same with phrases, why use one that's been done so many times when you can think of a more fitting and fresh way of saying it. Use something that will fit in with YOUR story.
The biggest example I know of is the book Eragon. First off, it's the overly used plot that I mentioned above. The boy's name is dragon, replaced with an E and the dragon's name is Saphirra, I'm guessing since she's the color sapphire, now how original is that? I could barely pull myself through the first chapter because it was already filled with clichéd phrases, plots and characters. I want to read something new! Don't you? Just because your father is a publisher doesn't mean you are a good writer!
You may be asking why I am writing all this. Well, someone needs to tell them, maybe it's better they find out this way then have a publisher or agent throw their novel in the garbage.