Most Common Writing Mistakes, Pt. 43

Most Common Writing Mistakes, Pt. 43: Too Many Exclamation Points!

Exclamation points! Woohoo! Yeehaw! Is there any punctuation mark that could possibly be more fun for writers to use? (Okay, so there is the interrobang, but that’s still kinda the same difference.) Exclamation points are there to help us express our big emotions: excitement, joy, anger, passion. Naturally, we want all those big emotions in our stories, so […]

Most Common Writing Mistakes, Pt. 42: When Your Story Stakes Aren’t High Enough

There are two different ways you can blow your story stakes–and both of them have the ability to ruin your book. Before we dig into the pitfalls, let’s take a moment to consider just what story stakes are. What Are Story Stakes? Your character’s stake in your story is his personal investment in the conflict. It’s whatever he […]

Most Common Writing Mistakes, Pt. 41

Most Common Writing Mistakes, Pt. 41: Inferring Non-POV Characters’ Thoughts

These, days, writers have to be clever. There are so many guidelines we need to observe in order to make our plots, characters, and narratives as vibrant and powerful as possible. As this series on most common writing mistakes attests, there are so many things we try not to do in our writing. The problem […]

Most Common Writing Mistakes, Pt. 39

Most Common Writing Mistakes, Pt. 40: Unnecessary Scenes

What is a story but scenes? Put one scene after another–and you have a story! Of course, it’s a little more complicated than that. Those scenes have to hang together in a way that makes sense. They have to create a contiguous arc. Every one of those scenes needs to be integral to that arc. If a […]

Most Common Writing Mistakes, Pt. 39

Most Common Writing Mistakes, Pt. 39: Referencing Characters by Title Rather Than Name

In the time it takes you to write two small words, you might be dramatically distancing your readers from your story’s narrative. Scared? You should be. But don’t be that scared, because this one of our most common writing mistakes is just as easy to fix as it is to commit. And what are those two small but […]

Most Common Writing Mistakes, Pt. 38: Irrelevant Book Endings

Is there anything more fun, more bittersweet, and more challenging than book endings? Arguably, nothing matters more for ensuring reader satisfaction than the ending of a book. As such, few parts of your story are going to be more important to get right. But naturally, the room for error rises in direct proportion to the importance of […]

Most Common Writing Mistakes, Pt. 37: Unnecessary Filler

“Brevity is the soul of wit.” However, creating that quality of brevity isn’t so much about writing short as it is about making every word count. As we continue to discuss the most common writing mistakes, we’d be remiss to leave out the all-too-prevalent faux pas of unnecessary filler or padding. The 4 Reasons Unnecessary Filler […]

Most Common Writing Mistakes, Pt. 36: Too Much Introspection, Not Enough Interaction

The best character development is often found in the heart of his personal narrative: his introspective observations and reactions to the events of the story. As I’ve preached many a time, if a character’s not reacting to what’s happening in your story, then what’s happening doesn’t matter. But the irony here is that the eternal balancing act […]

Most Common Writing Mistakes, Pt. 35: Random Story Elements

Even the simplest of stories aren’t simple. Most of them feature dozens of characters, settings, POVs, themes, conflicts–and on and on. A good story is made up of more working parts than most of us can wrap our little brains around in any one moment. Sometimes all these many working parts of the story can get away from us. […]

Most Common Writing Mistakes, Pt. 34: Repetitive Dialogue

Forget all the other writing rules, but always remember this one: The reader’s time is valuable. Readers don’t want to listen to us or our characters repeat ourselves—especially in repetitive dialogue. It’s surprising how easily repetitive dialogue can sneak into our writing. Half the time we’re so close to the material, we may not even […]