Most Common Writing Mistakes, Pt. 55

Most Common Writing Mistakes, Pt. 54: Story Events That Don’t Move the Plot

One of your chief jobs as a writer is to come up with story events—stuff that happens in your story. Coming up with these exciting elements is likely why you started writing in the first place. Like C.S. Lewis, you were zapped with the electrifying image of a faun carrying packages and an umbrella through the snow—and […]

Most Common Writing Mistakes, Pt. 50

Most Common Writing Mistakes, Pt. 53: No Contractions in Dialogue

What’s the worst writing mistake an author can make? It’s a broad one: doing something you think makes you look sophisticated and clever, when really… it doesn’t. A common manifestation of this is a conscientious avoidance of contractions in dialogue and narrative. I’ll admit I fell prey to this as a young writer (who not […]

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Most Common Writing Mistakes, Pt. 52: Stagnant Story Conflict

What’s so hard about story conflict? You throw your protagonist and your antagonist onto the page–insta-conflict! Right? Actually, not so fast. Turns out creating a fascinating story world in which dwells a fascinating hero and an evil villain is not enough, in itself, to create integral and interesting story conflict. I’ve read quite a few unfortunate […]

Most Common Writing Mistakes, Pt. 50

Most Common Writing Mistakes, Pt. 51: One-Dimensional Characters

The most magical moment in writing is when you sit down with a new batch of characters, turn them loose on the page, and… they come to life. They spring up from that flat, white expanse of page, and they’re real. They’re dimensional. They’re organic. They’re compelling and interesting and wonderful. Except, of course, for when […]

Most Common Writing Mistakes, Pt. 50

Most Common Writing Mistakes, Pt. 50: Info Dumps

On its most fundamental level, a novel is nothing more or less than the dissemination of information. As such, the writer who understands exactly how and where to share information is a writer who understands the most fundamental skill of storytelling. That’s why info dumps are such a big, bad deal. They’re peanut butter in […]

Most Common Writing Mistakes, Pt. 49: Weak Conjunctions

Consider the conjunction. It’s one of the building blocks of solid prose. It links idea to idea, creates clarity, and offers emphasis in a solid punch at the center of your sentences. If it can do all that when properly handled, then you definitely want to make sure you’re not watering down your writing with unnecessarily weak […]

Most Common Writing Mistakes, Pt. 48

Most Common Writing Mistakes, Pt. 48: No Conflict Between Characters

I slapped the FedEx guy this morning. Okay, not really. My FedEx guy is totally cool. And he brings me cool stuff. I’d never slap him. But that got your attention, didn’t it? Way more so than if I ‘d said, “I thanked the FedEx guy this morning.” The difference between the two accounts, of […]

Most Common Mistakes Series, Pt. 47

Most Common Writing Mistakes, Pt. 46: Anticlimactic Endings

Here’s how to write books readers will love–and yet still end up hating you for. It’s easy. All you have to do is divebomb out of your brilliance and into anticlimactic endings. On some level, anticlimactic endings are pretty self-explanatory. They’re endings with no bang in the end. They’re endings that evoke a yawn from readers instead […]

Most Common Writing Mistakes, Pt. 45

Most Common Writing Mistakes, Pt. 45: Avoiding “Said”

What’s this, you say? Avoiding “said” is one of the most common writing mistakes? How can that be? Surely writers overuse this ubiquitous little word more often than not, don’t they? As a matter of fact: nope. Indeed, trying to avoid this hard-working little speaker-attribution tag can, in most instances, lead you into some major prose problems. If you […]

Most Common Writing Mistakes, Pt. 44

Most Common Writing Mistakes, Pt. 44: Too Many Participle Phrases

Rushing to her computer, Katie tries not to spill her coffee. She is late to write a very important forty-fourth installment in the “Most Common Writing Mistakes” series. She looks for her coaster, rooting through her desk drawers. Finally, relieved by the protection of the precious particle board of her desktop from permanent circular stains, she plops down in […]