My Top Five Fiction Writing Mistakes

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OK- a bit of a confession. As a writer, and as a person, I make mistakes. No, honest- I’m not trying to play the whole fake humility thing that you sometimes see writers and artists try to pull on their fans from time to time.

writing mistakesI honestly think- no- I honestly know- that I can improve as a writer, and as an artist. But that only comes with an examination of what mistakes were seen in my previous writing- both by myself and others. So, without further ado- here is a list of my top five mistakes as a writer- and how I plan to correct them in future stories and books.

Mistake # 1- Too Many Typos/Grammatical Errors

This, perhaps, was one of the most embarrassing errors out there.  Even though I proofed, edited, and helped to copy edit hundreds of different documents, stories and books over the years for other people, I apparently can’t see a typo in my own work to save my life. Call it mental auto-correction, or call it a lack of experience on my part, the result is the same.

So the solution is that from now on I will be hiring (or at least working with) and editor for my work. Self-editing will not be the only form of editing taking place. I learned my lesson.

Mistake # 2 – Not Making A Strong Enough “Case” against my Hero/Heroine

My first book, The Spring and Autumn Murders has met with mixed reviews since its publication in 2012, some of them praising it quite well, and others not so much. One reviewer, going by the name of DEBS on Amazon pointed out something that I didn’t realize- or see at the time of the writing. She pointed out that the case against one of my main characters of Zian- who was being accused of murder- was pretty slim and cheap. Now, I could argue that I was trying to go the scapegoat route- that he was being accused based on him being a stranger in the town, but the truth of the matter was that I thought it was a pretty good case against him. However, upon further inspection, I can see that DEBS had a very good point- the case against him was weak. And if the case against him was weak, how can I expect the reader to share his triumph when he succeeded against it or join him in despair when he fails.

So thanks to DEBs from Amazon, I will be paying much more attention to that in the future. Hopefully, I’ll be able to challenge my characters.

Mistake # 3 – Racing Toward the Finish Line

Another complaint or mistake that has been mentioned to me over the years, is that I tend to race through the last third of the book, making things feel a bit too hectic and well, hurried for a lack of a better term. And honestly, I can see why people would say that. However, I think the mistake in reality lies not in the books or stories endings, but rather in their beginnings. I tend to like a slow, steady build up in my stories to help build the atmosphere and suspense. Perhaps I take a bit too long to get to the good part.

So I definitely need to pay attention to my pacing and remember that it’s better to have the action throughout the whole book — not just the last third!

Mistake # 4 – Too Many Words!!

This complaint took me by surprise, really. I tend to keep my descriptions to a minimum, leaving much to the imagination of the readers. However, readers have told me that although they liked the story, they didn’t like the feeling of wordiness that they got from reading it.

So, I looked through my stories and took the time to read them out loud. What I found there gave credence to the wordiness critique. While my descriptions were terse and succinct, my dialog wasn’t at all. In fact, it was quite fluffy, filled with words that weren’t necessary at all. Apparently there is a name for this phenomena- marshmallow dialog– as in fluffy and without substance.

I’m not sure which stung more really- that I had committed such an error- or that there was such a name for it. So, this is one thing that I will definitely try to improve in future works.

Mistake # 5 – Writing and Editing at the Same Time

This is a huge, huge problem for me. I have a very bad habit of editing while I’m writing, and I am beginning to see the problems with it. First- it is hard to get the creative juices flowing if I’m constantly damming them up with mental re-writes. Second, if my editing mind accepts something as good to go, it becomes good to go- regardless of whether or not it is (see Mistake # 1, above). Third- it actually takes me longer to finish a piece.

So what am I going to do to fix the problem?

That’s a simple, yet very tough answer. I’m going to have to break myself of the habit, and form new ones.

So what writing or storytelling mistakes have you made? Share them below!

© 2015 – 2017, Laura Seeber. All rights reserved.

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