The following tips are from the Writing Classes website . I have compiled a top 10 of these rules, with my own analysis.
1. Write. (Neil Gaiman)
It goes without saying, if one wishes to be a writer, one must first write. Writing is not easy. Although his second practice starts with ‘put one word after another’, it is important to take note of the full practice:
2. Put one word after another. Find the right word, put it down. (Neil Gaiman)
Anybody can jumble together a collection of words, but it takes true skill to get words that portray the meaning you want. There are 26 letters in the alphabet. Even simpler there are four squiggles that make up all 26 letters: the line, the curve, the dot, and the flick. It is our job as writers to give meaning to these simple squiggles on a page and to give the reader a reason to want to find that meaning.
3. Never open a book with weather. (Elmore Leonard)
Readers don’t care what the weather is like in your story. Of course, there is an exception to the rule: if the story is the weather, you can open with it. I mean, if there is a storm in your world and the story is about the storm, it is OK to start your story with it.
4. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip. (Elmore Leonard)
Obvious really. If the reader is going to skip over it, don’t write it in the first place. This goes hand in hand with another of Elmore’s rules: ‘Avoid prologues’. Some readers don’t read the prologue; therefore, you shouldn’t put one in. At least that’s how I view his rule.
5. Never use a verb other than "said" to carry dialogue. (Elmore Leonard)