- Story is the crucial element; story is the emotional impact of the situation (plot) on the characters. How they react and what actions they take because of what they feel.
- In 21st Century writing, the author remains invisible. The characters “show” the story through their thoughts, feelings and behavior.
- The story is pulled along, the way an engine tows a train, by what the main
character(s) wants. What they’ll do to reach their goal, who or what stands in their way, and how that character changes when they reach their goal, or do not.
- Dialog is confrontational, never real-life conversation. Dialog is charged because of opposing agendas of the characters.
- Each character must have a distinct voice. No two should sound alike.
- Each scene, each chapter must start late, with the story already in motion, then
end early, with some important outcome left hanging.
- Each chapter must end with a dramatic need for the reader to turn the next page in order to discover what happened.
- The story must start on the first page.
- A story must make a promise to the reader. The promise is that the reader will care. The story must keep that promise.
- Characters must come with or develop eccentricities; normal is never enough.
- Pacing and tension must never lag.
- Narrative must be kept to a minimum.
- Set-up is no longer needed or tolerated in 21st Century novels.
- A writer must trust the reader. Give them 2 + 2 but never do the addition for them. Let the reader discover that 2 + 2 equals 4.
- Above all, the author must have a strong, unique voice.