1. Never write using a first person point of view
2. Never write in present tense
3. Don’t tell. Show (see illustration).
4. Don’t write dialogue in dialect.
5. Clichés are old hat.
6. You never write in second person POV. Dear God, I mean, not ever.
7. Don’t use adverbs. Or, if you must, use them sparingly. But never use ‘suddenly’ no matter what.
8. Don’t use prologues.
9. Never use a word other than ‘said’ to carry dialogue. Even ‘says’. If you find you have used ‘says’ as a dialogue tag then you are writing in present tense. See (2).
10. Don’t write what you know. No do. No don’t. Um. It depends what you know really.
11. Using the passive voice is not recommended.
12. If using the third person POV, which obviously one is, avoid use of the omniscient narrator.
13. Make sure you read widely. Also, focus on reading books similar to your own.
14. Network like crazy and build your platform.
15. Don’t procrastinate. Shut up and write.
Once you have rewritten your manuscript according to the above rules it will be ready to blend in with others on the slushpile. Next week we shall discuss how you can make your work stand out by use of the query letter in ‘100 things not to do when querying literary agents’.