So, you want to be a published author? We all do! But I’m afraid it isn’t as simple as jotting down our creative ideas and sending them out into the world for publishers or agents to scoop us up. You see, writing is an art that takes time and dedication to hone. In order to become a successful writer, it’s important that we have a grasp on what makes a story appealing from beginning to end.
This means avoiding common mistakes that plague writers every day – one being overused clichés. If you take a look at best-selling books, it seems like they hardly ever contain any familiar sayings or descriptions. Why is this? Well, because overused clichés simply get in the way of a good story.
10 Writing Habits You Should Avoid As An Author
As a writer myself, I believe that it is my duty to avoid clichés just as much as possible. In this article, I’m going to share 10 writing habits you should avoid as an author. You’ll be surprised to see how many clichés are still in your manuscript! So without further ado…
1) The Floating Head
What do I mean by floating head? Well, it’s an all too common act of starting a sentence with “she thought/he smiled/he felt.” Instead, try “She thought…” or something similar instead of telling the reader what your character is feeling without them actually feeling it for themselves. How do you know what a character is thinking or feeling? Good question! It’s something that simply happens as the story progresses. The reader will sense emotions from your characters, and they won’t need to be told about them.
An example of this would be:
She smiled. – Telling the reader how the character feels.
He smiled at her, making her heart flutter against her chest. – Showing the reader what your character is feeling through their actions and dialogue.
2) Saying The Same Thing Over And Over Again
While a character may think or feel a certain way at the beginning of a story, one must remember that their feelings and thoughts should evolve as the plot progresses. For example, if one character is angry in chapter 1, he should NOT still be angry in chapter 10 without any solid reason for it.
3) Using Dialogue To Summarize
As writers, we can’t always include “he said, she said” after every dialogue line. Not only does this make for tedious reading, but it also goes against the rule of Show; Don’t Tell. If you want to convey information through dialogue, try writing like this instead:
“I can’t believe you cheated on me.” His tone was accusatory. – Telling the reader what they are feeling through dialogue.
Henry stared at her for a minute before turning, walking down the hallway, and slamming the bedroom door behind him. – Showing the reader how he feels about his actions.
4) Including Grammar Mistakes In Your Work
Everyone makes mistakes, especially when it comes to writing something up in a pinch or under pressure. However, if your errors are noticeable enough that even copyeditors can spot them, you should take some time to go back over every sentence of your story with a fine-tooth comb. You never want to put anything less than your best self out into the world, so it’s important to give your work a final proofread before sending it out to agents and publishers.
5) Getting Caught Up In The Nitty Gritty Details
Many writers enjoy adding in minor details that enhance their stories – such as describing a character’s outfit or writing long paragraphs of action and dialogue – but overdoing these small descriptions can eat away at the word count you’re working within. If you find yourself trying to write an intricately detailed masterpiece, ask yourself if each sentence is absolutely necessary.
Your goal should be to write an effective dialogue-driven plot with enough description to paint a mental image for your readers without weighing them down with every scrap of information you know about your characters. If you finish writing your story and realize you need to cut some detail out, don’t be afraid to do so! The story will still make sense without it.
6) Over-Explaining Your Characters And Plot
While it’s important to paint an accurate mental picture for your readers, one must remember that even very descriptive works should only contain as much detail as necessary. If you find yourself writing things like “her hair was long and luxurious” or “Jimmy sat down on the hardwood floor,” try going back and deleting a few of those lines to streamline your story. Your goal should be to help the reader create their own mental images using as few words as possible.
7) Over-Promising On Your Story’s Potential
Sometimes, writers have certain expectations for what their story will become – either from themselves or from others – and this can lead to disappointment if their work doesn’t reach the bar they set for themselves. If you find yourself losing motivation or getting feelings of outrage because your story “isn’t good enough,” remember that every writer has a different style, and what may not be great to one person is totally fabulous to another! Don’t let yourself get discouraged by comparing your work to others, and don’t strive for an impossible goal when it comes to how good you want your story to be.
8) Letting The Plot Continue On Automatically
We all know that creating a fully-detailed world is super fun, but one must remember that they are the ones in charge of this world. If your characters start going on crazy adventures without your guidance, then you’re probably letting them do whatever they want. A writer must constantly be aware of how their story is developing and whether or not it’s actually leading anywhere, even when things get exciting!
9) Hiding Behind Your Writing
Some writers use their stories as an opportunity to explore personal problems or opinions without actually putting themselves out there. While exploring your emotional issues can be healthy, if you’re trying to develop a full-fledged story with characters and conflicts, you need to do so in the context of fiction.
If your writing is nothing but thinly-veiled personal problems, then you’ve got a lot of work to do because chances are your story will be a total snoozefest. Fiction is about creating a world that others can enjoy, not airing your dirty laundry for everyone to see.
10) Spamming The World With Your Story
If you keep pushing your story out into the world even though it isn’t finished, then you’re spamming people with half-completed work. This is a major problem because if your story doesn’t have an ending, your readers will just stop reading when they get to the end of what you’ve got so far.
Also, if someone has been following your story for a while and you suddenly push out a new chapter, but it’s just a massive wall of text with no spacing, then they’re going to be seriously confused. You can write as much as you want, but remember that before you post anything, you should have an ending in mind – even if it isn’t fully fleshed out! It’s better to go back and edit multiple times than to upload something that doesn’t make sense or is badly formatted.
11 Tips for Being an Awesome Writer
1. Write for yourself
2. Know your audience
3. Read, read, read!
4. Write what makes you happy (and keep it in)
5. Edit, edit, edit!
6. Keep things realistic (but don’t be afraid to get creative if necessary)
7. Be descriptive but concise
8. Don’t let the plot get out of control!
9. Write what you know
10. Do not spam the world with your story!
11. Develop your own unique style
To sum things up, the key to writing a great story is knowing what you’re doing and being confident in yourself. While it can be really hard to write something that will truly blow your readers’ minds, if you have a good grasp of language, some solid ideas on where your plot should go, and a positive outlook on what you’re doing, then you’re already on your way to creating a great story! Good luck, and happy writing!