|Honestly, I don't remember it being so PINK.|
Everything important that I've learned about running a role playing game I discovered in the first few years of playing. The remaining decades are just filled with me having to relearn these basic tenants because I've read gaming advice that sounds good, but ultimately falls short.
Now when I say YOU in the points below, I mean ME. I'm talking to myself here, and the games that I play. What works for other people is different that what works for me. You probably shouldn't even be reading this because it will screw up your game.
1. Stop fucking planning.
Really dude, just stop it. Being prepared is one thing, but sitting around, imagining what the players are going to do and coming up with some sort of tree branch decision matrix outcome generation system is futile. It's not going to be exciting.
Let the players do whatever the hell they want and react to it on the fly. Build the world each step of the way as the players put their foot down on that particular patch of grass. Sure, sketch out a map, imagine some dungeon ideas, flesh out an npc - but never expect that the players will go to those lands, explore those dungeons, or meet those characters. The players can't screw up your plans if you don't have any, and it's kind of rude to expect the very free-thinking players that you want to be playing with to hop aboard your choo-choo train of railroadiness, no matter how grand it might play out in your head.
The best 'planning' for a game is to read lots of adventure fiction, ancient history books, geology texts, and Shakespeare. Go watch Mythbusters and play with LEGOs. Devour information and play games. Feed your mind the building blocks of world making so you can have the tools to build on the fly.
2. Don't you dare open that rulebook.
Looking up monsters stat, equipment lists, or random tables is okay. But don't waste anyone's time digging for rules DURING A GAME. If you can't remember it - it was obviously too complicated anyway.
Recently, one of my newer players had a character in the water, fighting a sewer kraken in 4e. I told him that he was at a negative two to hit.
"Is that in addition to the underwater combat modifications listed in the rules?"
I chuckled. "I don't remember what the 4e rules for underwater combat are, and I don't care. You are at a negative 2. Go."
He looked like I was speaking Martian to him, but he continued. Later he joined my Labyrinth Lord game as well, so evidently the way I was running things wasn't too repulsive to him.
3. Leave the damn dice alone.
If you roll the dice, accept the result. You asked the universe a question. The universe gave you an answer. Deal or don't roll the dice in the first place. The universe typically makes better decisions that you anyway, since, you know, it can't be WRONG, so you might as well go with it. And it works because I never feel guilty about cheating or short-changing the players from the full 'gaming experience.' :)
So, there you have it, ckutalik, my recipe for LEET G4MERZ SKILLZ You are now 'it.'