61. Once you finish a draft, put it in a drawer and work on something else for at least a month before reading it again with fresh eyes.
62. Allow plenty of time. I will usually spend at least twice as much time re-writing a book as I spend writing the first draft. You probably don’t want to hear it, but the hard work is just beginning!
63. Fix the big stuff first. Add subplots. Cut characters. Don’t waste time perfecting the wording of a scene where Phil argues with Frank if, in the end, you decide Frank isn’t really adding anything and so he—and all his scenes—end up on the cutting room floor.
64. It’s important to properly use the English language when writing, but don’t waste time fussing about small typos and grammar when you’re doing early drafts of your books. There will be time for that later.
65. Write tight. This is perhaps the most important of these tips, and yet I’d bet it’s the one people are least likely to utilize. Why? Because for most people it’s the hardest. You see, part of re-writing has to be done with a sledgehammer and part of it has to be done with a scalpel. Look at your manuscript closely and ask yourself if you’re saying something with 12 words that could be said just as well with nine? It’s hard, hard work, but few people are willing (and able) to do it, so this will give you an advantage.
66. Murder your darlings. It’s an old adage but one of the best. Writing means cutting anything—even the most beautifully-written sentence in the world—if it doesn’t make the overall book better.
67. Pacing is key. I’ll say it again, PACING IS KEY. Keep your story moving and the reader will stay with you. Let your story tread water and the reader is going to walk away.
68. Every chapter should change the story. Every one. After all, if your characters go a whole chapter and haven’t evolved in any way, then don’t waste your reader’s time.
69. Keep a balance between loud and quiet; fast and slow. In other words, a good story is like a good song—the tempo varies. Keep your reader guessing about what is going to come next.
70. There’s an old screenwriting adage that says scenes should “start right after it gets interesting and end right before it gets boring.” I like that one. I use it all the time.