Recently, while browsing for writers' markets, I came upon a two part article in The Guardian entitled "Ten Rules for Writing Fiction" See http://www.guardian/. co.uk/books/2010/feb/20 The authors/compilers asked fourteen established authors, including Canada's Margaret Atwood, to provide ten tips (commandments?) for aspiring novelists.
Among the gems were:
"Try to leave out the parts that readers tend to skip." (Elmore Leonard);
"Do change your mind. Good ideas are often murdered by better ones." (Roddy Doyle);
"Have more than one idea on the go at any time." (Geoff Dyer). Dyer also says to beware of cliches "of response as well as expression... There are cliches of observation and of thought - even of conception. Many novels... are cliches of form which conform to cliches of expectation."
(My apologies for not knowing how to put the accent on the e in cliche.)
Other bits of advice I liked:
"Marry someone you love and who thinks your being a writer is a good idea. Don't have children." (Richard Ford).
I didn't agree with "always write in the third person", but all of the advice is worth mulling over.
The only tips I might add are:
. Be selective when it comes to showing your works in progress to other people.
. Learn to work on your own. Avoid other writers and writers' organizations if you sense that they are picking your brain, sucking up your time and disparaging your work in the guise of constructive criticism.
. Learn from reading fiction that is like yours only better. Sample books on the craft of writing.