For the few years I've been writing, I've learned quite a lot. I've come to understand some of the inner workings of the stories I love, specifically: the reasons why I love them, what the author did right. I've learned how to find and apply some of these things to my own stories. But one of the things I haven't learned is "the secret." I think most of you know what I mean here. We all had that period when we first started off, where we googled every little thing we could think of that seemed related to writing, to try and figure out what every successful author seemed to know, but refused to share with the public. What's the trick to writing good drama? How can I make my writing funny? How do I make my writing more appealing to read? What's the secret?! Of course, during that time, we barely wrote anything down. And then we learned that there is no secret. You might also have learned that there aren't really any rules. The only places where you can find rules is in each individual story. Lord of The Rings wouldn't work if Tolkien followed the same rulebook as Stephen King. In fact, I imagine it would suck pretty hard if he'd done that... I see a lot of people on this forum (including myself from only a month or so ago), asking questions that become detrimental to their writing if they end up taking the answers too seriously, and if they decide to follow the rules that are given religiously. Thankfully--because most of the people who have been on this site for a while seem to be aware of these things already--the answers are often filled with warnings to be wary of these things, and that whatever they say are just suggestions. Though I do see some people here get carried away, claiming that their way is indeed correct, and the other ways are wrong. I've done this too, by the way. Here's the secret I have learned, and I only call it a "secret" because we all seem to have forgotten about it at some point in our writing endeavors, and we need to be constantly reminded: You become better at writing, by WRITING AND READING. Not by reading craft books, not by asking for people's opinions out of the context of your story, and certainly not by spending hours every day searching for the ancient knowledge that seems to have been brought down in generations of writers, kept hidden from the rest of us. Write with purpose, see what works, test things out, get feedback from people (by actually having them read your story, not by asking questions out of context to learn the "rules"!), and then adjust and re-write till your fingers bleed. Be wary of rules. If you write a book that breaks every rule you've ever heard anyone give you, and someone still likes it? Well, then you did yourself a good job. There is a rulebook to every story, there might even be one to each reader, but there is no rulebook to writing. (Edited--Credit to @Tenderiser--There are also more great ideas around this topic in the comments below!) PS: I'm all for "tools not rules."