The results make interesting and entertaining reading.
Avoid prologues: they can be annoying, especially a prologue following an introduction…
Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue.
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.
My most important rule: if it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.
Try to read your own work as a stranger would read it, or even better, as an enemy would.
There is no “writer’s lifestyle”. All that matters is what you leave on the page.
Tell the truth through whichever veil comes to hand – but tell it.
Trust your reader. Not everything needs to be explained. If you really know something, and breathe life into it, they’ll know it too.
Cut out the metaphors and similes. In my first book I promised myself I wouldn’t use any and I slipped up during a sunset in chapter 11. I still blush when I come across it.
Are you serious about this? Then get an accountant.
For a good melodrama study the famous “Lester Dent master plot formula” which you can find online. It was written to show how to write a short story for the pulps, but can be adapted successfully for most stories of any length or genre.
(Wikipedia gives this as Michael Moorcock’s summary of the Lester Dent master plot formula: Split your six-thousand-word story up into four fifteen hundred word parts. Part one, hit your hero with a heap of trouble. Part two, double it. Part three, put him in so much trouble there’s no way he could ever possibly get out of it…All your main characters have to be in the first third. All your main themes and everything else has to be established in the first third, developed in the second third, and resolved in the last third.)
If possible have something going on while you have your characters delivering exposition or philosophising. This helps retain dramatic tension.
Ignore all proffered rules and create your own, suitable for what you want to say.
There is much more to savour in these lists. I recommend checking out the full article. Enjoy!