This is no gimmick. I'm not going to trick you by saying, "Write a good book." Because yes, that's important. Yes, that is CRUCIAL. You need the good plot, good characters, and good writing--it's essential. But, I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and say you've done all this, because I know you all are great writers.
There is one thing, however, that writers completely FAIL to comprehend at times.
BREAKING THE RULES IS GOOD!
Every major bestseller has broken at least one of the 'unbreakable' rules of writing. And yet, breaking the rules I listed below did not detract from their stories.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (yes, I'm American. No, I don't like Sorcerer's Stone better)? Big word count and starts off with a flashback.
The Da Vinci Code? PLEASE! If there was a bigger violation of "Show, don't tell," I'd like to see it with all the info-dumps in that book.
Tale of Two Cities? Main character dies in the end, and POV shift at the end (And yet, the ending scene is the most beautifully written scene, in my opinion, of all literature (as far as I've read). I LOVVEEEE it. I reread it to this day).
Animal Farm? ...... Seriously? The main characters are PIGS! (In both senses of the word.)
Hunger Games? Written in first person present tense, which was not all that common back then.
Catcher in the Rye? SOOO MUCH internal monologue and ongoing narrative. No plot.
YET, each one of these rule breaks were so WONDERFULLY done!! Tale of Two Cities is the best selling novel, if I remember correctly, of all time; Harry Potter is the best selling series of all time; Catcher in the Rye... it's Catcher in the Rye. It's awesome. And it sells like crazy.
The thing is, writers get so scared of breaking the rules that they don't do it. The thing to realize is, that rules are made to sort out the mediocre. Most people can't write a tight 120K novel. Most can't pull off a main character's death. Most don't have the awesome voice to pull off a load of internal monologue. That's why there are rules--to sort them out. But if they can do all this stuff well, boy, NOTHING will stop them.
If you write within the rules, then you are SET. You will sell loads, and you will get a huge fan base.
But, if you pull off breaking a rule or two, and you do it AMAZINGLY, you will be on your way towards JK Rowling and Dickens. (On your way. Maybe not at ;)) Do what comes natural to your story, even if it breaks the rules.
Rules help, loads. So please, KNOW THE RULES BEFORE YOU BREAK THEM! I broke tons of rules in my book, and now, in revisions, I'm going back and fixing them. The rules help. Yet, I still have one big rule that I broke. Don't fix something just because the rules mandate it. Don't fix something that makes the story unnatural. Fix it because critique partners have issues with it (get yourself one if you don't have these awesome people). Fix it because YOU know that it is wrong. Don't fix it if you don't understand why.
Rules are in place for the average writer. Many writers can excel at mediocrity. But only a few can be good at difficulty, and once you are, you've reached bestseller status. (Keep in mind the disclaimer at the top of this post.)
"The Secret of Being JK Rowling," "The Secrets of Creativity," "The Secret to Marketing," and many more are coming. Don't forget to suscribe so you don't miss the posts!
So what about you? What rules have you been panicking about that you've broken?