Read more. Both in your genre and everything else. What you want is to be familiar with the work of other writers in your genre. That way you’ll know what readers expect and also, be able to explain how your book fits in, but is different. So, what should you read? Other romance novels (if your genre is science fiction), thrillers, autobiographies, action-adventures, suspense, literary novels, short stories, poems and plays….everything else. It may provide you with techniques on how to improve your fiction.
Learn from the stories you read, especially the ones that haven’t worked for you. Put yourself in the writer’s shoes. Think of ways to amend the story. Cut weak scenes. Imagine and add others that would make it better. Time permitting, write out one of these imagined scenes. Read it through. Does it work?
Also learn from the stories that work. What were the scenes that stood out for you? Or was it the way the writer characterized their people or developed their story-world. Try to learn something from their various techniques. Pick one thing they’ve handled well that you would like to master and tackle it. Look for ways to make improvements in your own drafts. Read your revisions over. Does what you do work? Are the characterization methods, dialogue or plot twist coming out better? Remember readers like surprises.
Or try your hand at something new for thirty minutes, one day of the week. Write a poem, if that’s not your usual medium, draft one page of a script, short story or short short. The idea here is to do something different. Subtle shifts in technique and craft can open you up to new ideas, associations. But as always be gentle with yourself, if it doesn’t work seek help or try something else.
Last but not least, experiment. Push yourself beyond the limits of what you would usually do. (Which for some of us might be engaging with social media). Or for others a class in drawing, pottery making or improvisation. Take the time to grow. Learn new techniques that might help you to become a better shape-shifting writer, after all your characters are not the only ones who should move, and change and grow.
Have a stupendous Sunday!