1. Be as original as possible, forget conforming to any genre expectations.My opposite: As writers our work tend to fit into various categories or genres. You are either a fiction writer or non-fiction writer and sometimes even both. Nevertheless, there are rules or expectations from the publishing industry and from your readers as well. I write romantic suspense novels and so you would expect to see elements of danger and romance not a comedic novel. The blue print is out there for whatever genre you decide to write and it’s best to follow them if you want to be a successful writer.
2. Ignore the belief that publishable books have structure or that you need one.My opposite: Structure or plotline is what holds a book together. Without structure, your book will invariably fall apart. This can lead to reader complaints and that’s not a good thing. So take the time to develop a plotline and then review it to make sure it tracks the story you are trying to tell.
3. Leave details as ambiguous as you can. Let your readers rely on their mind-reading abilities to intuit what you really meant.My opposite: What’s a story without details? Well, it’s a story that won’t capture and keep the readers attention from start to finish. So, please ensure that your story is filled with clear details that will help the readers envision exactly what you mean.
4. Make sure your readers cannot easily form mental images from your story.My opposite: The whole point of writing is to capture the readers imagination and draw them into a world you have created on paper. If readers can’t connect with the characters by knowing what they look like or places that they go then this makes for a bad story. Bottom line, writers need to engage the readers five senses: sight, sound, smell, taste and touch to pull them into the story.
5. Don’t worry about logical inconsistencies, keep your readers on their toes!My opposite: Readers love a good story. However, what they don’t like (I’m wearing my reader hat here) are inconsistencies in the storylines. If they have to flip back to pages where you described something one way from the page they are on, they will get frustrated and put the book down.
6. Do not waste time learning the craft of writing. Focus on producing lots of words – that’s what writing is all about.My opposite: Writing is more than producing lots of words especially if there is no cohesiveness to it (e.g. shoddy plot structure, stilted dialogue, no character motivation, etc.). So, my advice would be take a few writing courses, attend writing workshops and conferences to learn and hone the craft of writing. I have done all of this and continue to do so because there’s always something new to learn.
7. Don’t read, not even the great authors. And especially never read other authors in your genre. Their writing might rub off on you and make yours less original.My opposite: I cringe whenever I hear writers say they don’t read the writings of other authors especially if they are in their genre. They are definitely doing themselves a major disservice if they don’t. For me, I enjoy reading suspense, thriller and detective novels with a hint of romance. So my library is filled with books from Eric Jerome Dickey, Carl Weber, John Grisham, Walter Mosley, etc. I read them to get a feel of the plotline, character’s motivation, the setting and the dialogue. This propels me to sharpen my craft and in no way makes my writing less original. In addition, I would recommend that writers not limit themselves to reading in their genre as they can gain a better appreciation for the written word from various genres.
8. Do not research your topic. Your intuition is more compelling than facts.My opposite: Not doing your research is a big No No. In order to make your writing resonate with readers and allow them to connect with your characters and the storyline you need to do your research. So, if your novel involves a murder, you need to research police procedures, medical terminology, etc. In other words, you need to write a story that is grounded in reality and that makes your characters and the plotlines believable.