Yesterday, I came across a forum on Goodreads.com about writing advice for beginning writers. While already full of helpful suggestions from other authors, I decided to offer a few recommendations of my own—mainly as a means to crystalizing my own thoughts regarding what I feel is most important for someone first starting out.
Following is the advice I posted in the goodreads thread. I hope that you’re able to find something of value in it that either educates or inspires you to become a better writer.
Post from Goodreads forum (August 13, 2014):
I just wanted to add to some of the previous posts with two suggestions. One—remember that writing is an art, not a science. Two—always be a student.
These two recommendations go hand-in-hand. While there are no rules to writing, there are conventions. Knowing them will drastically help anyone considering writing their first novel. As for the art side—analyze your favorite authors. What do they do that you like/dislike? Perhaps you already have your own unique style. If not, study other writer’s to learn how/why their writing is effective.
As already noted by others, there are tons of posts/blogs about writing to help beginners. There are also online courses such as the UCLA Extension classes I took when I first started. If you already know how to maintain POV, develop plot, building characters, balance exposition with dialogue, etc., then you’re ahead of the curve. If not, do some research.
Being a willing student helped me more than anything else when it came to writing my first book. There were so many things I didn’t know when I first started: tell facts/show emotions, nothing happens nowhere, indirect vs direct dialog, active vs passive voice, etc.
Expect to do a lot of writing/rewriting before you’re happy with the results. Editing is key. Editing helps you track your own progress. Whenever you discover how to make one of your own sentences better, you’ve gained insight that will help make you a better writer.
Some lesser advice: maintaining both your confidence and focus is key. Don’t get discouraged no matter what other people think/say about what you produce. It’s a process. The goal is to make it good eventually, not immediately. Speaking of processes: find your own. As noted by many other posts on this thread, what works for others may not work for you. Knowing about various tools helps (i.e. scene summaries, character bios, etc.) but the deciding factor should be what works for you and nothing else.
I hope this helps. Good luck and remember: above all else, writers write.