When I first started writing, I bought all the books, read all the blogs, and took all the classes I could. It was overwhelming. So for those of you just starting out in this bizarre world of self-expression/self-promotion, here are a few tips:
1. Believe in yourself.
It is said that there are only a limited number of plots. That may be true, but there is only one you. Your point-of-view is a combination of genetic makeup and your life experiences that give you unique insight and a unique ability to convey your story. Make that story yours.
2. Don’t worry about *the rules* in your first draft.
Just get it down on paper. After you have your story down, you can go back and polish it.
3. Let the story rest between drafts.
Write some short fiction, perhaps a backstory for one of your characters. Or write something completely new. Watch the convention requests for submissions. Learning to write short fiction is a discipline that will greatly advance your book writing. Telling a story in 5,000 words or less teaches you to focus and to make every word count.
4. Buy a used copy of your favorite book.
Annotate it and highlight it for the stuff you love. When you’re done, look at those notes for general trends. If something resonates with you, chances are it will resonate with your readers. Try to emulate what you love about the book. For instance, I love how Benjamin Black saturates subtle character movements with nuanced emotion. I try to do that too. Not sure if I have pull it off but I strive for it.
5. Listen to good audiobooks.
Pick a book that has thousands of great reviews for the narration. Study the speech patterns. Imagine how the copy is typed up. (You might get a used copy of the book to check.) Also, listening to a book rather than reading it will give you a different insight into the pattern of exposition vs dialogue vs setting.