- Don’t be dismayed or surprised if some pieces of work turn out to be rehearsals
- Be careful how you repeat yourself, and why.
- Begin dramatically.
- Don’t keep back the good stuff.
- Consider beginning in the present.
- Negotiate your own standards of plausibility.
- Once you’ve invented your rules, keep them.
- Remember the power of appropriate omission. We don’t need to take every journey with the characters, make every cup of coffee.
- Don’t overexplain.
- Be sure that borrowing a plot, a character, or situation doesn’t seem like theft.
- Know which kind of suspense your narrative depends on, and use accordingly.
- Be aware that form and tone govern content.
- Ask if your plot needs a subplot, or two.
- Develop your characters both as individuals and in relation to each other. Let the reader know which characters are major and which minor.
- Be ambitious with your language.
- Whatever you do, keep making rhymes, lines, puns, clauses, phrases, metaphors, sentences, paragraphs, sonnets, scenes, stories, plays, poems, novels…
–From Margot Livesey’s Essay “Shakespeare for Writers” in The Writer’s Notebook: Craft on Essays from Tin House