Ayleth of Ravenswood is my first novel. While I was a good general writer before I wrote it, I didn't know a lot about story-telling. I'm not now claiming to be an expert; I simply wish to share some things I've learned. In these posts, I'm going to dig into my process specifically. Some of the advice may not apply to your writing, some will. You may disagree, and I encourage discussion. The information I provide won't all be original, but I'll put a unique spin on it.
Writing Tip #1
Write only what your character(s) can perceive, not what you, as a god-like figure looking down on the scene, can perceive, if you are not writing as Tolkien did. He wrote LOTR from the perspective of an omniscient, unknown figure looking down on the entire world, joining parties and individuals to tell the story. My story is told from the perspective of different characters, mostly Ayleth, and frequently in the form of her thoughts.
For example, I should not write "Ayleth turned and fled. Her attacker smiled and gave chase." She couldn't know that he'd smiled, as she was looking the other way. She could potentially hear him give chase, but not in all circumstances. I could change those sentences to "Ayleth turned and fled. She heard the crunch of gravel underfoot as her attacker laughed and gave chase." In the new version, there's more world detail, and Ayleth can both hear him give chase and laugh.
I find myself breaking this rule frequently, as it can sometimes be tricky, and not so obvious. For example:
"Ayleth's attacker breathed hard as he pursued her across the crunchy gravel." No sir! She may not have been able to hear his breath over the gravel, or because she was simply too far away, or just didn't notice.
I could change the sentence to: "Ayleth breathed hard as her attacker pursued her. I'm in much better shape than that pig. He's got to be ready to collapse.
The easiest way to avoid this extremely common problem is to simply look through your character's eye's, hear through his or her ears etc. You'll want to do that anyway in order to describe what he or she is seeing. After all, show me, don't tell me.