Writing, like anything else worth doing well, takes practice. Even talented writers have to put in the effort to make their work publishable. Plenty of self-published stories show good and bad examples of this maxim.
My earliest short stories are riddled with terrible examples of what not to do. In my haste to publish, I thought I had done excellent work. Some lessons are best learned the hard way, but there are less humbling ways to learn the craft of writing. Those ways haven’t been my path, and I’d love to help others avoid the pitfalls I created for myself.
Read about writing.
There are so many resources I wish I’d checked into sooner. There are tons of articles, books, videos, and live events that can help new writers. Before I self-published on Amazon, my only writing experience had been work-related or for school. Even in creative writing classes, my teachers focused on the story, not on how to show (instead of telling) it.
Only after I’d found my way into critique groups did I realize how juvenile those stories were to other authors. Thankfully, those two sad Amazon entries made less than twenty sales together (thanks to friends and family). You don’t have to go through that kind of trauma, practice your craft before you push the publish button.
Five years later…
The stories I write now are still not masterpieces of fiction. They are, however, not mangled by my novice voice. I show, I ground my dialogue in the scene, and my descriptions enhance the story rather than trying to take center stage over the characters. I’m as much a work in progress as my stories, but I like to think both are improving.
So find ways to learn about how to write, the details are always up to you, but the methods and structures are there for a reason. You can break those rules anytime you need to, but it always helps to understand them before you ignore them. If you ever have to explain your reasoning to an editor, you’ll be glad to know why breaking a rule works in that instance.
Above all else, my favorite advice still stands: Write.