5 Writing Mistakes We See All the Time
by Writing Workshops Staff
A year ago
It seems to be a universal belief that writing is hard - and maybe that’s because it really is. From writer’s block and over-explanation to character development and crafting the perfect beginning and end, these things are simply par for the course.
However, sometimes these mistakes can be the difference between pressing the publish button or starting over from scratch. As with anything, the best method for course-correction is to bring awareness to the issue.
That’s why we’re sharing the five deadly sins that thwart even the most talented wordsmiths.
Does this sound familiar? Your friend is pitching you on the latest book she read. “The first 50 pages were a bore,” she says. “But if you can get through that I’m sure you’ll love it.” We can’t stress this enough: don’t let your writing project be the victim of a snoozing start.
If you don’t hook your reader from the very beginning, chances are they’re going to bow out. And how unfair is that? They haven’t even gotten to the good stuff! Try using a concise sentence structure that drops the reader in the middle of the action, and swap vague adjectives for powerful verbs.
Writing to a cold audience can be a double-edged sword. After all, you understand the inner world you’re crafting like the back of your hand. But a reader knows nothing, and it’s up to you to bring the story to life with vivid detail and crystal clear imagery.
However, some writers make the mistake of going overboard with explanations. They pack paragraphs with the same description multiple times, taking for granted that the reader was able to figure it out the first time around.
Are you one of those writers who has always loved editing your own work? Then you’re a rare breed. Most writers start off edit-shy, fearful of revisiting the words they’ve committed to the page. The sooner you can move past these anxieties, the better off your writing will be.
The fact is, writing is an organic process, and we’re hardly ever satisfied with the first draft. The best writers revisit their work multiple times, sculpting each section into the best possible version it can be.
Make sure to include proofreading in your editing process, too! There’s nothing worse than a reader finding an obvious spelling mistake buried deep in a book that’s otherwise perfect.
Beware of the fluff factor – the perpetual habit of stuffing unnecessary words into a sentence to ramp up the word count.
Whether it’s a memoir or a novel, readers all want the same thing: to immerse themselves in a story with enough momentum to keep their attention, darting forward at a faster pace than the mundane rhythms of daily life.
Our brains are literally wired to look toward the future. And while adopting a Zen attitude of the here-and-now is great for navigating real life, we crave stories that satisfy our desire to know what happens next.
When writers fill up the pages with unnecessary fluff, they transform a potential page turner into a “maybe I’ll pick it up in five months” read.
Just as important as a riveting beginning, is a satisfying ending. Remember, this is the moment that your readers have been waiting for. This is the sign off, the final impression you leave before someone runs off to recommend your book.
In fact, crafting a dull ending can be even more damaging than a lackluster beginning. For many people, it creates the impression that a writer just got bored with the project, and decided getting it done was better than getting it done right.
Which writing mistake do you struggle with most? Make it a point to focus on correcting that one major challenge, and we guarantee you’ll be much more satisfied with the end result.