The main things to remember when asking yourself “How can I improve my writing skills?” are:
1. Remember, free writing advice comes from the heart.
2. But watch out for ignorant advice.
3) Beware of teachers who hold back vital information.
4) Even the greatest writers can be poor teachers.
5) When seeking wisdom, search widely. Test the advice.
Here are a couple of clues:
Is your idea original? As a contest judge, I get to see thousands of stories a year. Many of them are roughly the same story told over and over again. For example, I get stories about “brain transfers” a lot. It might be a Freaky Friday kind of story, where two people switch bodies, or it might be a person getting his memories downloaded into a machine, or it might be a person getting his memories downloaded into a younger version of himself. The question is, do you have a unique take on this idea? Have you considered the idea more deeply than others?
If your idea is not original, if you’ve seen it time and time again, then your story might be weak at its very core, and perhaps you should look for a more-original idea.