It seems that everyone out there is looking for tips on writing. I try to stay away from giving advice, normally. Not because I don't think I have valuable advice, mind you; but rather, because there just isn't that much "advice" to give. What I have, though, I'll share (I'm not greedy, after all).
Your best bet is to read other books and study how other authors write. Not other books on writing, just other books. You see, there are any number of hack writers out there who can give you the ten rules or the eight rules or the hundred rules that every writer needs to follow; but creativity is not found in a how-to manual. We're not talking brain surgery or rocket science, where you have firmly established procedures to follow. If you want to know what works in writing, then see what has worked for others.
Don't stop there, though. Simply copying others' works won't make you a success; and it'll probably prove to be illegal, anyway. Before you can put your creativity to work, though, you do need some idea of what actually works. Published novels and short stories are the best place to find elements that actually work.
After you've done that, then sit yourself down and write. Write every chance you get. Write every place you are. Write every word you think. Don't stop writing for any reason (within reason, that is). The second most frustrating thing about successful writing (after the fact that there is no set guide for successful writing) is the amount of time you must spend on it. Unlike brain surgery and rocket science, writing is hard work.
How will you know when you're good? You won't. You will never know, even after you've been on the bestseller list for ten weeks in a row. Remember, even Paris Hilton wrote a bestselling book. Your best bet is to get as many different opinions on your writing as you can. Success, after all, is often measured by how much other people like your work. So get as many critiques as you reasonably can.
And remember, no matter how harsh the criticism may be, there are two things that you must never do: never ignore it (because they may be right), and never trust it (because they may be wrong). Take what other people say to heart, honestly try to incorporate it in your work, but in the end, trust yourself.
Always keep in mind that creativity is relative. What you find clever, someone else might not; and what someone else finds creative, you may find incomprehensible. You have to use what you feel is right for your story. Don't let others write it for you; follow your own instincts. It's the only way to do it.
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