Read more and write more. That sums it up. 🙂
OK I guess that doesn’t completely sum it up. However, I think reading and writing as much as possible is the key.
By reading obsessively in the area we write, fantasy in my case, we come to see patterns. We see what works. We see what’s been done already. We even see, with a bit of thought, where our genre is going in the future. That’s crucial. The market evolves. I know for a fact that fantasy is vastly different from when I was growing up. When I was younger, shorter and more annoying, fantasy was all about good v evil. The heroic quest. Black and white. These days, I think characters are much more morally ambiguous. Black and white have been replaced by many shades of grey and more complex motivations. The fantasy genre has matured. Writing a fantasy book now that would have fitted the market a couple of decades ago will probably be a very hard sell today. (Not that a bit of good v evil isn’t still fun. I just think times have changed.)
Reading outside our main genre also helps. We can see different techniques at work. And we can see other ways of doing things and apply them to our chosen genre. eg My first book, A Memory of Blood, has definite thriller elements despite being a fantasy book.
By writing as much as possible, we get a feel for the activity. Writing gets easier + becomes more effective with practice. Practice really does make perfect. Just like playing an instrument. Or riding a bicycle. Or riding a bicyclist (Sorry but I had to slip in that crap pun). Writing as much as possible also helps us overcome the barrier of the blank page. We get used to banging out our story in record time. The more words we write, the easier they come.
One last very important thing. Never ever waste time on writing blogs nobody ever reads. Erm… gotta go.
Thanks for reading (or not reading, as the case may be),