Today's tip comes to you from the many editors and agents I follow on Twitter. I see one of them say this at least once a month, and it's good, solid advice, so I'm passing it along.
Read in your genre.
If you don't read in your genre, it shows in your writing. If someone sits down to write a kids' book but hasn't read one lately, chances are it's not going to be up to today's standards. And no, Harry Potter is not today's standards. Kids who grew up on Harry Potter are now adults writing books of their own. While HP is still beloved by many, books existed before it and books kept on being written after it. And the same goes for Twilight and YA.
To get an idea of the current state of your genre, try reading books that were published in the past 2-3 years. You'll see what sort of pacing works for different age groups and different types of stories; what the vocabulary level expectations are; how much conflict a story is expected to have and whether those conflicts are internal, external, or both.
When a writer queries an agent, claiming "you've never seen anything like this before!" it's usually because the writer hasn't read enough. Reading other authors is great research, and it shows respect for the work of publishing and others in your field. And plus, it's reading homework - always fun. Reading widely improves your own writing skills as well. Find a story you like and re-read it slowly, to discover what techniques the author used.
So do yourself a favor. Go pick up some books from your local library, and take a little time off to read.
Every Wednesday and Saturday we bring you an edit tip of the day. Be sure to check out the archives for our popular summer series of SHOW DON'T TELL workshops!