There is only 1 rule of good writing: Make the reader feel something.


That's right. Good writing is not about you. (It never was!) It's all about the reader.

Bored readers will toss your story aside. There are a million things they'd rather do than slog through another boring story.

Use your gift of language to craft a story that will envelop your reader with emotion. Whether its anger or awe, true love or lasciviousness, coveting or contentedness, it doesn't matter. Make your reader feel something. All writing rules, regulations, and advice should be subjugated to this singular goal.

Writing a romance, or romantic subplot? Walk your reader through the experience of falling in love and having their heart broken.

Writing an action adventure? Make your reader care deeply about the protagonist and make the stakes high. (High stakes doesn't have to be about saving the planet. They can be personal, like adopting a child, dealing with lung cancer even though you've never smoked, or winning a Parcheesi tournament.) Or write shallow characters but have the plot be so exciting that your reader stays up all night because they cannot put your book down.

Writing a western or something set in another time or land? Walk your reader through what it feels like to be there. Spell out the sights, sounds of the bugs/animals, smells of the people/plants/cooking, and the dryness/stickiness of the air that is unique to your setting. What does it feel like when they take a step and what does it sound like? What makes every day activities, like going to the bathroom or getting dressed, different in that setting?

Stephen King is known for his "kill your adverbs" advice. But King's advice is what works for him and, I believe, it makes his stories more immersive, and makes the reader feel something. But if you can make your reader feel something by marinating your work in adverbs, and saturating it with adverbs that modify adverbs, then freaking do it, and ignore ol'Stevie's advice.

Be a master manipulator with the written word and make your reader feel something.

P.S. On this subreddit, I see daily questions of "Is it ok if I do X thing?" 99% of the time I want to respond with, "I dunno, try it. Did it make your reader feel something?" Maybe it did. Maybe it didn't. None of us here know your particular writing style well enough to definitively say, "Yes, that will work for you! You will now be an awesome writer, sell a million copies of your work, get the girl/guy/other/robot of your dreams, and that one family member will finally be proud of you."

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