1 - Understand your own story. Be able to explain it in 1 or 2 sentences what the story is about. Fiction or fantasy...you still need to be able to convey something unique or at least understandable in a log line
The shorter=the highest concept
Jaws 2 - 'Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water.'
Alien - 'In space, no one can hear you scream.'
Aliens - 'This time it's war.'
Meg - Jurassic Shark
The Cornubian - 'What lies between the devil and the deep blue sea?'
2 - The villain makes the hero. In Kung Fu Panda, the ultimate evil can only be defeated by the most unlikely good.
3 - Alternate two stories between chapters (story A and B), weaving them together leading to the final united act.
4 - Always plan your story. I use a beat sheet, using short bullet points to hit the main aspects of the story. Other authors do short drafts of each chapter...whatever works for you.
6 - However you plan your story, remember it is only a guide. Allow the writing and creativity to flow, as it will lead you to different beats. This is fine, as long as you end up where you ned to be for the final act.
6 - A novel requires 2 things: research and perspective. You need smells, terms only those characters would use...everything to establish the world and the people living in it.
7 - Hook the reader in the introduction or first chapter! Once you have them, you can spend time with internal rationalisations later.
8 - Don't telegraph your ending. Tease with shock and twist endings so when there, the reader can realise they were on the right path, but don't cheat them by 'jumping the shark' with it (looking at you M. Night Shyamalan with The Village'!!!)
9 - Write stories that would would want to read..don't write for others.
10 - Don't give up hope. Dreams only come to those who wake up and pursues them. Or in the words of George McFly "If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything!"