Thanks again to Advice to Writers (if you haven’t checked out this site yet, I highly recommend it!). Here is some food for thought…
Create Vulnerable Characters
It’s always a part of my purpose as a storyteller to first create characters that the reader will be anxious for. You can’t be anxious for a character if you don’t care about the character, if you don’t in some way like, respect, or even love the character, or at least have affection for the character. And then, once I’ve established those characters, in whom the reader I hope has some emotional investment, then it’s perversely my job to make as many terrible things happen to those people we like as I can imagine.
~ JOHN IRVING
Read Like Mad
Read like mad. But try to do it analytically – which can be hard, because the better and more compelling a novel is, the less conscious you will be of its devices. It’s worth trying to figure those devices out, however: they might come in useful in your own work.
~ SARAH WATERS
Keep a Diary
Keep a diary, but don’t just list all the things you did during the day. Pick one incident and write it up as a brief vignette. Give it color, include quotes and dialogue, shape it like a story with a beginning, middle and end—as if it were a short story or an episode in a novel. It’s great practice. Do this while figuring out what you want to write a book about. The book may even emerge from within this running diary.
~ JOHN BERENDT
Cut Without Mercy
What lasts in the reader’s mind is not the phrase but the effect the phrase created: laughter, tears, pain, joy. If the phrase is not affecting the reader, what’s it doing there? Make it do its job or cut it without mercy or remorse.
~ ISAAC ASIMOV