My thanks to Chuck Wendig for inspiring this post.
1. Never start with a character waking up. If the character is waking up at all, he or she must not have enough conflict in her life. Bonus points for the character never waking up at all.
2. Never have your character look in the mirror. Mirrors are evil, soul-stealing devices and will suck the inspiration out of your literary creations if you let them. Make sure your characters avert their eyes from mirrors, unless you are specifically writing a soul-loss scene.
3. Never write a prologue. The reader doesn’t like to know what’s going on, or have any introduction to the action. The more confused you leave your reader, the better they will think your book is.
4. Never discuss the weather. This is for really boring cocktail parties. If your characters are at a really boring cocktail party, they still shouldn’t discuss the weather because you did something wrong if they ever woke up in the first place. Also, because they never look in mirrors, they are unlikely to get invited any parties, particularly boring ones.
5. Never use adverbs. Like carbohydrates, they exist only to be demonized.
6. Never write your story in the present tense. It ruins the illusion that your story actually happened and your reader has only so much suspension of disbelief. They’re never going to believe that the unicorn-troll hybrid is eating the hero’s face after his soul was stolen by a mirror AT THIS VERY MOMENT.
7. Never start a story with characters in a car. It’s very dangerous to operate a car while not having woken up and never looking in mirrors. Also, it’s often necessary to note the weather while driving.
8. Never write flashbacks or dream sequences. Their only use is to introduce exposition, which serves to un-confuse the reader, which is to be avoided.
9. Never use passive voice. Passive voice is for passive characters, and passive characters are boring. But then, so are characters that never wake up or groom themselves to be allowed out of the house to see the weather. Perhaps we should rethink passive voice.
10. Never start a story with a goat. Goats are nature’s adverbs, inserted only for cheap entertainment.