Friday, December 17, 2010


When I was at Thrillerfest, the International Thriller Writers' Annual Writing Conference, in New York City last July, I attended an excellent workshop by bestselling thriller writer Steve Berry. He gave us eight key rules that all successful fiction writers should know and follow:

1. There are no rules. You can do anything you want as long as it works.

2. Don't bore the reader. You can bore the reader in a sentence, in a paragraph, by misusing words, poorly choosing words, using the wrong length, etc.

3. Don't confuse the reader. Don't misuse point of view. Don't do too much at once.

4. Don't get caught writing. Don't let you, the author, enter the story. (E.g., "And he never would see Memphis again." How would anyone other than the author know that the character would never see Memphis again?)

5. Shorter is always better. Write tight. It makes you use the best words in the right way.

6. Don't lie to the reader. It's okay to mislead, but don't lie. If you say the character's motivation is A and it turns out to be B (and you haven't foreshadowed it at all), the reader will feel cheated.

7. Don't annoy the reader. Don't use names that are hard to pronounce or write choppy sentences throughout the entire book. It keeps people from getting close to your characters.

8. You must tell a good story. Bad writing can be forgiven with a good story. A bad story with the most beautiful writing cannot.

1 comment:

  1. This is great! Thanks!
    Steve and his wife give an absolutely Not miss writers workshop - and doesn't matter where you are in your writing career, you'll end up taking a lot of notes!
    It's an absolutely great workshop.

    And his books are terrific reads as well. ;)