Friday, April 24, 2009

Mistakes in Writing

Pat Holt wrote an article on her blog, Ten Mistakes Writers Don’t See (But Can Easily Fix When They Do). This is a VERY good article and explains some of the pitfalls writers face.

Since Holt explained the definition of each pitfall, I'm not going to repeat her words. I highly recommend you read her blog. My post is to see how many of these traps I fall into.

1. Repeats
There is probably a few crutch words or sentence structures I rely on. I have a feeling these are "smile", "shrug", "look", or "gaze". I could do a word search to see how many times these words pop up in my writing. I'd rather bury my head in the sand. I'm not good at showing human reactions in text.

2. Flat Writing
I don't think I do this. I read each chapter twice, send it to my critique partner, then read it again. I scour the darn thing looking for extra words that don't add to the story.

3. Empty Adverbs
Guilty. I use ironically, unfortunately, actually, and hopefully. Not a lot, but they do make their way into sentences. I suppose even then these words aren't necessary. I'll check later today if the sentences are stronger without them.

4. Phony Dialogue
Okay, yes, I have been using a few trendy words and modern phrasing because I'm writing a young adult. I wanted the characters to sound real. It's possible that could be considered phony. I do struggle to give my characters different voices. I have one character that is sarcastic, one that speaks in short sentences, one that is talkative and curious, and another that speaks with hidden anger. It's not that easy to do, and I wonder if the reader can identify the differences in character dialgoue.

5. No-Good Suffixes
I don't think I do this. I don't add "ness" or "ing" where it doesn't fit. I believe my critique partners beat that out of me a long time ago.

6. The To-Be Words
Big time guilty. I love me some "was", "were", "is", and "am". I'd also add "would" and "could" here. I know this is a weakness, yet I can't seem to fix it. I guess I have to work on it harder now.

7. Lists
I don't remember doing this. I usually keep the visuals in separate sentences. That way, the reader adds one visual at a time to create the picture in their head.

8. Show, Don't Tell
I think my ratio is sitting at 75% show and 25% tell. It's just so darn easy to say "he's handsome" than to explain what is unique about his features that make him handsome. And I ALWAYS forget to include smell in my writing. That's the #1 thing I go back and add after a chapter is done. Even then, it's such a small part of the story.

9. Awkward Phrasing
Uh, I don't think so? I read over my sentences carefully. I don't read them out loud, which probably helps to catch awkward phrasing, but I do mimic reading them by moving my lips and picturing the scenario in my head. If I don't catch the awkwardness, I hope my critique partner does.

I feel pretty good about my comma usage. They are wonderful when you need to pace the words.

I must send my thanks to Holt. That was a great article and made me think more about my writing mistakes. Off to fix it now!

1 comment:

Lisa Logan said...

A lot of great facts here, and flat writing is one of the most disheartening things I come across in otherwise good submissions. When the premise is intriguing and characters have enough struggle to show promise, it's disappointing to dive in and find the telling of the tale sterile and rote.

Since this is a tougher, more involved fix than misplaced commas or felony adverb abuse, flat stories get outright rejections from me far more often than ones guilty of the other issues.

Thanks for sharing this!