Dodging the Mistakes Writers
Make and Staying "Alive"
To Write More

Are you guilty of any of the mistakes writers make? The kind that send your readers packing?

If so, here are the things to avoid.

What's That You Say?

You've probably heard of voice. (Yeah, you use yours everyday to yell at the kids, right? That's not the kind I meant.) Voice - as in the way you write your novels. Hemingway had a very distinctive voice. Read something of his without his name on it, and you'd still know it was his.

You need to do the same thing. Copy others at first if you must, but only long enough to figure out what your voice is - how you're going to tell your story. Then use it consistently.

If you don't, if you sound just like every other romance writer out there (or horror writer, or... fill-in-your-genre-writer), you know what I'm going to do.

Where Are We?

You don't think we're done yet, do you? There are more mistakes writers make that you won't, right? Like forgetting to let us know little details like where we are this chapter? (Maybe your character doesn't know, but we'd better have some idea!)

Don't confuse your readers with sloppy attention to setting. Let us know if we're still on that cliff, hanging by a thread - I mean a rope (yeesh, I hate heights!). If we're really supposed to be back on terra flatta, be sure we know that, or we'll take a hike. Pun intended.

When Are We?

Setting mistake two when writing fiction: It's what time again? I didn't get that. Could you speak up?

Oh! You forgot to let us know it's three weeks later? Well, just scoot on back to the beginning of this chapter and make a gentle little reminder. No ramming it down our throats. Be subtle, but clear.

If you must, if you have a time-travel novel for instance, date the beginning of each chapter to be sure we know where and when we are. Or you'll "lose" us. Hah. Very punny.

The Battered Manuscript Syndrome

When it comes to sending in your manuscript, you better avoid these mistakes writers make. Unless you get your jollies papering your walls with rejection slips.

Don't send a dog-eared, dingy manuscript. The editor's helper who opens it isn't going to think it's so popular it's nearly worn out from reading. He's going to think "someone mailed me their garbage" and toss it right back at you. Or throw it away.

Ditto on the box carrying your treasure. A new clean box, goes with a new clean copy of your manuscript every time you send it out!

Shhh! I'm Plotting!

Some writers are bursting with ideas, and chatter about them day and night. Along with the refrain, "Someday I'm going to be a famous writer!"

Hmmm? The mistake here? Maybe it's losing steam because that idea you were so enamored of has lost its sheen, due to overuse in conversation. Keep your fuse lit by keeping it to yourself until you're ready for a reader to see if you wrote it well. Then you can share.

Excu-u-use Me!

One of the biggest mistakes writers make is thinking they have to talk down to younger readers. Or up to older ones.

Puh-leeze! Don't offend me. Write out your passion in a way that conveys that passion. Don't dilute it for the younger set, nor dress it up for the older, "wiser" set. They won't appreciate it.

And they won't come back for seconds.

Coincidence? I Don't Think So!

Ever read a scene and thought, that just doesn't follow what happened till now! Yup, I have too. Maybe the author threw it in because she needed it to happen (how else was she to reconcile her star-crossed lovers!).

Big No-No.

How about that lucky hero who just happens to find the only key to the treasure chest lying around on the floor at the restaurant he happens into?

Nope. Not happening. Luck doesn't cut it. If he hasn't been digging for clues to that key's whereabouts and followed the trail to this particular restaurant, then don't hand him the key!

Last, but certainly not something to ignore, it's not a coincidence. That's too easy. Plot your heroine into that tight corner and remind us of the knife she always carries in her boot. Don't just let her pick one up off the shelf.

So, those are some of the worst mistakes writers make. And now, you know how to avoid them all. Happy noveling!

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