A Post by Writestream Contributor Kristyn Fetterman
All writers, from beginners to best sellers, are not immune to mistakes every now and again. From grammar mistakes to major plot mistakes, they can all set us back a bit in the writing process. I would like to focus on the bigger mistakes that occur commonly within plots, characters and story worlds. These are the mistakes that can hold your book back from the greatness it is capable of.
1. Your dialogue is over the top
Your goal should be to have realistic dialogue between your characters. Having unrealistic dialogue will cost you the interest of your readers. To do this, you need to get into the heads of your characters. Don’t have them speak something that they should already be aware of. Don’t waste time on pointless conversations that do not affect the story in some way.
Also, you should be cautious of your dialogue tags. The goal is to use them as little as possible. If you have created deep characters, your readers should be able to tell who is speaking just by your word choice. Introduce the speakers at the end of their first line of dialogue and then let their voices take it from there.
2. Info Dumping
If you are not sure what info dumping is, it is when you essentially dump too much information on to your readers in the wrong way. Info dumping is common when trying to provide a backstory or in dialogue. When it comes to backstories, the worst thing you can do is lay everything out in a few paragraphs and tie it up in a pretty bow. Your readers do not need nearly as much backstory as you think they do. Create the backstory but keep most of it to yourself and use it to get inside the head of your character. Give your readers only what they need to know.
In dialogue you should always keep your information to a minimum. Be cautious of what your character or the character they are speaking to would already know. You also do not want to have them present new information in an obvious manner and if you are consistently giving your reader information through dialogue, they will notice.
3. Everything is just too perfect
We all know that life is messy. Your fictional world and your characters lives should be messy too. If your characters’ lives are bright and shiny before the conflict starts in your story, your readers are going to see right through them. Real lives and worlds are full of chaos and ups and downs. Be sure to reflect that throughout your entire story and not just where the conflict resides.
4. You are not starting in the middle of the action
When you are dealing with fiction, your readers need to be brought in from the first paragraph. The best way to grasp your readers’ attention from the start is to jump right into the middle of the action. Details can be explained as you progress the story. You do not want to waste the first few moments of your reader’s attention on backstory or details. This action that you start your story within does not have to be the main conflict of your story but you do want it to be relevant to either your character or your plot. Give your readers a taste of what is to come.
5. You’re not taking risks!
Writing can be scary. You never know how people will react, you don’t know if you will be successful, you wonder if you can even do it, but don’t let these things stop you from taking risks in your story. A story without risks is likely a story that has been written before. Do something different! Take risks with your characters, your world, and your plot. Readers are not likely to fall in love with a character they have met before in another world. You cannot keep them interested in a plot that has played it safe. Don’t be afraid to make your story stand out.
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