This is an excellent article from The Guardian in the UK about writing fiction.
You can read it here.
The points I really agree with are –
2 Avoid prologues: they can be annoying, especially a prologue following an introduction that comes after a foreword. But these are ordinarily found in non-fiction. A prologue in a novel is backstory, and you can drop it in anywhere you want. There is a prologue in John Steinbeck’s Sweet Thursday, but it’s OK because a character in the book makes the point of what my rules are all about. He says: “I like a lot of talk in a book and I don’t like to have nobody tell me what the guy that’s talking looks like. I want to figure out what he looks like from the way he talks.”
I really don’t like prologues and forewords in novels. It is backstory, so get it into the story proper. Every prologue I have read I have forgotten about as the narrative progressed and I’ve had to go back and read it again.
4 Never use an adverb to modify the verb “said” … he admonished gravely. To use an adverb this way (or almost any way) is a mortal sin. The writer is now exposing himself in earnest, using a word that distracts and can interrupt the rhythm of the exchange. I have a character in one of my books tell how she used to write historical romances “full of rape and adverbs”.
‘Hear hear’, she said enthusiastically. ‘Adverbs don’t belong with said‘ she said wryly. Much like Ashton Kutcher in Two and A Half Men.
8 Avoid detailed descriptions of characters, which Steinbeck covered. In Ernest Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants”, what do the “American and the girl with him” look like? “She had taken off her hat and put it on the table.” That’s the only reference to a physical description in the story.
Let your narrative describe your characters. Let your dialogue describe your characters. One or two sentences is enough to give the reader an idea of their physicality.
This is such a good article. Helpful, valid and relevant. You can also read the second part here.