I recently had the pleasure of attending a lecture at The Center for Fiction given
by Joseph Finder, The New York Times Best Selling Author. He shared his story
—a fascinating one—of how he went from working for the CIA to writing thrillers.
He also shared his10 Tips for Writers from which he believes every writer can benefit. Here’s a summary:
1. Rejection can be useful. It can prompt you to do more work and get it to the right editor.
2. Be stubborn but be smart about it and be persistent.
3. Learn to value criticism. It can give you good feedback.
4. The best fiction is about character, not plot. The plot should arise from the character.
5. Avoid backstory dump. It takes people out of the story.
6. Every scene should do some work Ask yourself why is it there.
7. Reveal. Surprise. Cut out the slow parts.
8. Never underestimate your readers. Surprise them rather than fool them.
9. Just write the book. Don’t get hung up in the prose or the words.
10. Get lucky. Hopefully get in front of the right people at the right time.
I’ve read several of Joe’s books and have enjoyed them all very much. His last thriller, THE FIXER, a stand alone, certainly proves he takes his own advice.
How about you? What, if any, rules do you apply to your writing? We’d love to know.