6 Common Writing Mistakes to Avoid // Todays we’re talking about some of the common mistakes I see writers making all the time! We’re you’re a new writer, or an old pro, some of these mistakes that writers are making is probably something you can work on improving as well! So, let’s talk about some writer mistakes to avoid!
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Whether you’re a brand new writer or you’re someone who’s already written and published 10 books, you can never learn too much about your writing craft and how to improve yourself as a writer. Today I’m going to be talking about the six common mistakes that I see writers making, including myself. Hello everyone my name is Mandi Lynn. I’m an author, a book cover designer and the creator of The Book Launch Planner, and if you want to see weekly videos on writing, publishing and book marketing, be sure to hit that subscribe button as well as the bell icon so you can never miss a new upload.
So here’s a few reasons why I want to talk about some of the common writing mistakes because there are a lot of videos on YouTube that already talk about this subject and each video tends to talk about a few different things. So I’m going to be talking about the common mistakes I see, some people may not see the same mistakes or they just see them less often, whatever. These are the six things that I feel like need probably the most attention, whether that be by myself or by other writers in general. But first of all, this is important for new writers because as a new writer, these are some things that you probably are going to struggle with if you aren’t already struggling with it. And if you’re a super experienced writer, sometimes the more experienced you get, the more you tend to forget about the basics.
Now this doesn’t mean you haven’t mastered the basics, because of maybe you have, but it sometimes means that you’re so focused on trying some new technique, or some new astounding thing that you’re trying to accomplish in your story that you forget very basic things. And sometimes when we’re struggling with something, it’s pretty easy to just sit back and look at the basics and then be like, Hey, am I following this in my story? And you’ll be surprised how much the basics will help you in creating a beautiful story that readers will love. So the first thing I see writers making a mistake with is lack of dialogue. Now, this is definitely something that newer writers tend to do more than experienced writers. For experienced writers. Dialogue tends to come more naturally. But if you’re someone who’s never written a novel before, you’re going to struggle a little bit with dialogue.
Now, in the past, I’ve read some manuscripts from some brand new authors and they do a lot of telling. And by that I mean the whole concept of show don’t tell. And this is especially true when it comes to dialogue. Sometimes authors will sum up a conversation instead of actually taking us through the conversation. So it’s super important to have dialogue in your story to just put the reader fully immersed into that story. Now when I was first writing Essence, I was 13 when I was writing Essence and I thought I could write the story without any dialogue because I didn’t understand how to actually write dialogue grammar-wise. So I was like, my story doesn’t need dialogue. I’ll just write the whole thing without it. Obviously I learned very quickly that was not gonna work. So the easiest way I learned to write dialogue was just to read a lot of books and to observe how the author used dialogue in the book.
Because of course dialogue can be a little tricky sometimes and that can be a whole video within itself, but this is just me saying to you, use dialogue, use it often. It’s a great way for your characters to express themselves and their personalities and it’s much more effective than just summing up a conversation when you can actually have the characters have the conversation. And your characters can also talk out loud to themselves because let’s face it, we all talk to ourselves sometimes, so why can’t your character as well? Number two is lack of description, so this is something getting a little bit more into the advanced side of writing, just in the sense that the beauty is in the details. I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve had a lot of books where I was reading them and the author just described something in a way that I was like, Oh my God, this is beautiful.
You don’t want to say that it rained. That’s a very boring way of describing something. You want to go into the nitty gritty details. For example, the rain came thundering down in a roar as it beat into the ground with every drop. That’s way more interesting then it was raining. So when you create a prose like that, it is much more interesting for the reader and it makes the reader say, wow. And that’s how you get a reader to actually fall in love with your writing because they’re falling in love with the way you tell your story. We can tell stories through action, but once you get the descriptions in there, it becomes your story. It’s not just, she did this, he did that. There was a fight, someone died. That’s boring. What is beautiful about the story is how the words are intertwined together.
Number three is punctuation. I don’t know about you guys, but I still to this day struggle with punctuation. Commas are difficult. Now as a writer, you can sort of kind of get away with not having good grammar skills because ideally you either want to hire an editor or your publishing house will provide you with an editor. But either way you’ll make your editor’s life much easier when you actually, you know, put some effort into learning proper punctuation because it gets a lot more technical than just commas, periods and exclamation points. The biggest recommendation I can give to you guys is to read the elements of style by William Strunk and E B Whites. It is about the most boring book you will ever read, but it is basically a textbook on grammar for your back pocket. So as you can see, it’s not a super long book.
The print is kind of small, but it teaches you everything you need to know about grammar when it comes to novel writing. So give it a read. It’ll be linked down below. And you can also just keep it on hand whenever you need to, like reference something. So let me know in the comments down below, what part of grammar or punctuation you struggle with most? Like I said, I struggle with just commas. I don’t know why. I tend to want to put more commas than necessary. I also, even as a child, always had a problem with run on sentences, so that’s something I’m constantly trying to fix. So if there’s something you guys struggle with, let me know in the comments down below so I feel less alone. The fourth mistake you can make is making your reader think. Now I’m not talking about, you know how sometimes you can read a book and then you put it down and you just think about the story for a long time.
You’re like, wow, that was a really good story. That’s not what I mean. What I mean is when your reader is in the middle of reading your story, they say, wait, what? That doesn’t make sense. If at any point your reader has to pause and scratch their head, that means that you might’ve done something wrong. That might, it might be something stupid like grammar. It might be something a little more complex, like a plot hole or maybe you just did something really weird and it threw everyone off. Either way, you want to keep your reader fully immersed in the story. And there of course is a lot of ways of actually accomplishing that. There’s making your story realistic, making your story make sense. Uh, you know the punctuation thing that I talked about, there’s a lot that goes into it. But if you, as you read your story have to sit and go, huh, that means you might need to change something.
And same goes for beta readers or your editor. If there’s ever a point where they feel like they’re questioning something, take that into consideration and maybe make some edits. Mistake number five is a character arc. So just like a story has an arc that goes woo. You also want your character to have a similar arc where they go through changes. The person they are at the beginning of the story should not be the same person they are at the end of the story. But that change should occur naturally. Now, what the heck do I mean by that? I think there are a lots of examples I could talk about. But I do know that there are many, many times when there are T V series with lots and lots of seasons and then either when the writers are trying to sum up the entire series or they’re trying to just remove one actor, kind of make it make sense so the rest of the series can still go on, but like the actor is no longer needed for the series.
Basically what I’m saying is sometimes for whatever reason, writers have to sum up either part of a story or the entire story as a TV series. And ideally TV series are kind of written so they can go on forever as long as people are still enjoying it. So when that suddenly needs to come to an end, the writers have to figure out how to do that. And I’ve seen many, many times where they wrap it up in a way that just doesn’t make sense. Where you go on Twitter, you search the TV show is hashtag and everyone’s freaking out because they’re like, this character shouldn’t be doing this, this shouldn’t have happened. This doesn’t make sense. And for that reason, the reason that is happening, is because it doesn’t match the characters character arc. Like all of a sudden this characters making decisions, that don’t even make sense to the character just because the writers are trying to cut this person out of the show or they’re trying to end the show completely.
I personally don’t watch a lot of TV, so that’s why you don’t actually hear me giving any examples. But all that is just to say don’t screw up your character arc. Make sure that they are still, you know, acting as themselves. And lastly, the sixth mistake you can make is your story not being real. And by this I don’t mean like, Oh, your story isn’t factual. It like, that would never happen in real life. Um, when you write fiction, you do have this little thing called creative freedom where you can bend the rules a little bit. There is a point where you can’t bend the rules anymore cause it just doesn’t even make sense even in a fictional world. But for the most part you can kind of bend the rules. What I’m talking about in terms of your story not being real is in terms of a character’s emotions and how they react to things.
So what I mean is, you know, in fictional worlds you can bend rules, but emotions will always stay the same. Characters will always be upset when someone cheats on them. Characters will always be like angry or very, very upset if someone is killed and then they like feel like they need to find revenge. Emotions are universal throughout the world. So you always want to make sure that when a character reacts to something, it’s in a way that makes sense and is realistic. So what I’m saying is don’t have characters overreact. Don’t have characters underreact. Don’t have characters react in a way that just doesn’t make sense, that sort of deal. So that’s what I mean by a story isn’t real. What makes stories feel real and what makes readers cling onto a story and have a need to tell all their friends about a book usually stems down to something along the lines of emotion, where you struck a chord for a reader and the book sticks with them for that reason. The story could have sucked.
It could have had awful writing, but if it struck a chord for the reader, they’re gonna remember that story. So those are the six things that I feel writers kind of make mistakes on sometimes and six things that you should also be always constantly working on, no matter how basic it may feel. I would also like to take the time to shout out to my patron of the week, Timi V. so Timi’s current project is what she wrote in NaNoWriMo last November. It’s a new adult fantasy, historical new age mashup, genre but the focus is on the new adult elements in new age elements. It’s basically Freaky Friday meets time travel. On her website she has a shop, specially created for writers. It has fun stationery and she also does a mentoring program for creatives. And hopefully in 2020 we will see her self-publish her first novel.
So once again, a link to her website will be down below if you want to give her a visit. If you want to be featured as one of my patrons of the week, be sure to head over to Patreon. There’s a bunch of cool content you can unlock there, from exclusive videos to podcasts, and my AuthorTube Academy videos. It’s all there, or you can head over to my newsletter when you sign up for my newsletter, you get access to free webinars, downloads, and even read the first couple of chapters of some of my books. If you’d like to watch more videos on writing, be sure, just check out the playlist off to the side.
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