Don’t tell everything… explicitly
Did you ever thought something, and then said it out loud just to realize it now sounds a lot more ridiculous than when you first envisioned it? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. In fact, this happens to almost all of us.
So, what is the solution, when you have a story in your head and want to put it down and share it to the real world? Well, don’t tell it. Just describe enough of it and make it obvious so that 95% of your readers will imagine in their heads exactly what you wanted to say. Guess what? Since it’s only in their heads, it will sound much more credible. So, the rule is never say everything to your audience like they you are explaining them everything, instead just tell them enough to make it pretty obvious. It also has the neat advantage that you make your audience feel quite smart. Nice…
Introduce a precedent
Don’t you hate when important things in a story just simply happen, just as if they fell from the sky like magic, simply because the story needed those things to happen so it could move forward? I do. You know, like when the good guys are in trouble and suddenly someone shows up out of nowhere and saves them?
It makes the story feel lazy, as if the writer didn’t bother to find a way to do it, and so just invented something, and makes things not feel grounded. Well, in real life, things happen for a reason.
Instead, opt in for a more butterfly effect, in which important things that are happening began, even though the reader might not have noticed, during previous scenes in the story. So, when something needs to happen, make it a consequence of something else that already happened. It also makes your story feel more solid, with more foundations. Oh yes, and it also makes you, the writer, look smart. Nice too…
Your characters are not perfect
This is important to remember. Sometimes we want to put our characters, especially our heroes, on high pedestals, and create high contrast between them and the villains. Don’t.
First, every mistake your character makes will be a contradiction, and while you are allowed a certain amount of them (heck, even in our real life people who are good at something fail at it sometimes), you should not fill your story with them. And your character needs to make mistakes to make the story go on.
Secondly, it’s extremely unlikely that your readers are perfect. If your characters are, they will lack depth and will be hard for the reader to relate to. Instead, make them rich, distinct and at the same time enjoy the advantages it give you: a character with a lot more of peculiarities will be much more likely to relate, at least in one of those peculiarities, to your readers. Just be sure to not fall into the trap of describing your character solely by your words. This sort of relates to the first rule: describe your characters by their actions and reactions to the events you tell in your book. Because the conclusions of how the characters are, are taken by the readers, they will feel more believable than if you just had told them and forced them to believe. And it also makes your characters look smart. Because… I don’t know, but smart is sexy so, make them smart!
And third, perfect is boring. Do you want your characters to be boring?
Rules are meant to be broken
Don’t feel bad breaking these rules. After all, that everything rules are: guidelines with a smaller name. These stuff does not apply to all situations, so the important thing is to remember them everytime you think about how your next scene is going to be: do some of these rules apply to it, or are they meant to be broken in there.