Like Elmore Leonard, for instance (whom I only know as the guy Stephen King called "the great American writer"), in his Elmore Leonard's Ten Rules of Writing:
Easy on the Adverbs, Exclamation Points and Especially Hooptedoodle (I wasn't keen on reading it till I read the last word of the title. Do read the article!):
"Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue. The line of dialogue belongs to the character; the verb is the writer sticking his nose in. But said is far less intrusive than grumbled, gasped, cautioned, lied. I once noticed Mary McCarthy ending a line of dialogue with “she asseverated,” and had to stop reading to get the dictionary."
I had to, too! In case you're curious, it means "to affirm"!
John Grisham keeps it (a bit too) simple. He tells young ambitious budding writers to write a page a day as a hobby, for starters! Does it work? You wish. I have done that since I was like three. Have you ever seen me write anything even remotely resembling awesome crime fiction? Sigh.
After reading a bunch of other rules by a bunch of other famous writers, I felt like I had accidentally stepped into the world of the ever useful self-help books. Of course, then I read what Neil Gaiman had to say:
"The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you're allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it's definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best you can. I'm not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter."
This was the least helpful (i.e You don't get the kind of help from this that you naturally begin to expect in the world of self-help books - even though that help isn't really help, but you just don't realize this while you're still in that world!) and the most helpful (i.e It brought me back from the world of self-help books to the normal world, where it is actually the 'self' that helps the 'self'!) So, this, as far as I am concerned, makes the most sense. What about you?
Need a Cliffs Notes version to make some sense of this seemingly random ramble? Want to be a writer?
Writing is a good place to start. Off you go!
Unless, of course, you still have that little spark left in you, that tells you there might just be something you left out. Like a secret ingredient that will make you an awesome writer, or something. In that case, do what I'm doing, though I'm not doing it for that reason. *vehemently shakes head*
Reading "On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft" by Stephen King. An autobiography and writing guide, which might as well end up on my "Favourite Books Ever" list!