Top Ten Mistakes Writers Make (Part V)

Before I get started here, I thought I’d mention for the record that my book is for sale on Amazon now! Wheeee…here’s the link. http://www.amazon.com/Dreamcatchers-Rebecca-D-Leviton/dp/1449542565/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1298084915&sr=8-1 [Edit 9/19/12: The Dreamcatchers is being rewritten, so it has been taken off the market]

Ok, so on to:
#2: Floating words. A lot of authors and editors seem to miss it when they have the a random article or other word just floating around in the middle of a sentence. It’s a common mistake that people make due to a problem I call sentence splicing. For example, while you’re writing, ideas can change so quickly that you’re not even done finished the sentence before you have a new version of it in your head. So while you’re writing out one sentence, you decide to change the wording a bit, and finish it up with the new idea, not realizing that the new idea was a little incongruous and left you with a floating word somewhere that doesn’t belong. (In case you’re wondering, yes, I’ve been inserting random words into my sentences as examples) Sentence Splicing also happens also when someone goes back later in editing and rewrites part of the sentence without reading the whole thing through again to see if it works. I think you get the point. There are a lot of books out there that are littered with these little errors that don’t mean much, except they pull you out of the story every time, forcing you to stop and reread.
#1: Big heads. Ok, so I know that this wasn’t what you were expecting, but I do believe that large egos can be the cause of a lot of bad writing. Sure, I haven’t got any hard evidence, but I’ve got my own writing experiences to work with, and experience tells me this is a distinct possibility. When you write something – a story, a novel, a pamphlet – you grow attached to it. And the more time you spend with it, the more attached you get. So it’s hard when someone says, “You know, you really need to make this exchange more believable.” It’s darn near impossible not to do something violent, a reaction that will only seem entirely over-the-top in retrospect. I also imagine that authors who are already published allow their heads to swell even more, and so they get lazy or sloppy with their writing, stop trying as hard, and stop taking advice that they probably really need. Don’t fall victim to this trap. Take constructive criticism and use it. Your word is not law when it comes to your books; your readers’ word is. Yes, you get to decide which advice to take and how the content changes, but never believe that your writing is perfect without first getting some feedback. And don’t take it as an insult either. You can do what I do, and ask your friends and family to go easy on you with the criticism, or cushion it with things they liked about the book. However you choose to take it, make sure you take it, because when an editor gets to your writing, it’s a guarantee that they’re not going to hand it back to you with a smiley face at the top and absolutely no corrections.
So that’s it! There are, of course, some mistakes I missed in this list, but I still think it’s pretty comprehensive. That said, I hope you learn from this and strive to make your writing better, because what you think is your best today will not be your best next week, or in a month.
Happy writing!
Word of the Day: Palpitate (v) – to pulsate with unusual rapidity from exertion, emotion, disease, etc.
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1 Comment

Filed under books, writing

One response to “Top Ten Mistakes Writers Make (Part V)

  1. Great list. I can’t stress how important it is to understand how to take a critique. Nobody, myself included, is perfect. We all make mistakes. We should be able to have other writers point out those mistakes without going off the deep end. If you want to evolve as a writer, you must learn how to accept criticism. I made it to the top of the list! You should have drawn a picture for the top spot to make it seem special. Someone with a giant head or something.

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