38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes – Part 3

Finally!! This has been sat gathering dust in a folder for a while now and I’m now eventually posting it. Now I have a bit more time on my hands I hope to get a few more bits posted!

21. Don’t Ever Stop Observing and Making Notes

Writing is something that you don’t just get to a point where you have mastered it, you have to keep working on it. You should always hone your skill, Bickham gives several suggestions such as sitting down and writing as you watch people do things, what makes these people unique? Record what you observe and ‘translate it into evocative writing’. Currently I am trying to hone my skill as much as I can hence the posts like this. Something I could particularly benefit from would be describing my settings around me since my description is something I have never been strong on.

22. Don’t Ignore Scene Structure

When you write a new scene you should detail everything that happens, stretch it out and explain it all.  As you describe what is going on it should be happening like it does in real life, it is ‘moment-by-moment’ as Bickham calls it. What you write has to make sense and come to a conclusion by the end of it. The end of a scene should not be content it should lead to a ‘disaster’ something that ensures the character is still not content, otherwise you bore your reader. When you come to the main conflict of what you are writing always ensure that you have an intended goal for your character. Bickham says that having a ‘scene question’ is especially important because it helps you tell where the scene is going. Scene structure is something that I believe is obvious however when you think about it in detail there is a lot to cover, if you do it well you can end up with a very successful scene making the reader want more.

23. Don’t Drop Alligators Through the Transom

There is a question with every scene which should be answered. Essentially this question reveals the purpose to the scene and by the ending it relates to where the scene started for everything to make sense. The point of the odd title is to not throw something into the ending of your scene that is completely irrelevant to the rest of it. I feel like this is something extremely obvious to point out but some people can make mistakes like this easily. I know myself not to make this mistake, I learnt by always making sure that the purpose of my scene is fulfilled otherwise it is not needed.

24. Don’t Forget to Let Your Characters Think

You should always give your character’s time to think when things are happening to them. Bickham states that ‘reactions consist of emotion, thought and decision’ all things that you should include in your writing to make your characters more realistic. The question of ‘what shall I do next?’ must be answered for you to show what your character is planning next. I do this in my story when after the triplets are chased they discuss what has happened and what their next step is. Perhaps my next step should be reviewing the scene and adding more emotion where needed to make them more realistic.

25. Don’t Wander Around in a Fog

Have a plan for what you are doing in your writing and where you are going. The title is clear that you should have a clear pathway for where you are headed. If you start your story with either a clear plan or short description of the plot you will know where you are going with it. From when I first started writing my story I planned out what was going to happen and so far I have stuck to that. I hope that I continue to do this because if at any point I head off course it will be clear in my writing.

26. Don’t Worry About Being Obvious

If you are obvious in your writing then your readers will always know what you are telling them, if you choose to be subtle then you are risking losing your readers attention. Bickham says that you should take your time and go into detail describing your character otherwise the reader might not understand. I do think that this is an important issue, although this again is not the way that I have been taught in the past. Sometimes you need to leave the reader asking questions to get them to read further but if it is a main point it isn’t worth the risk. I think that this is something that I will need to check my writing for, it is not something that I am always conscious of.

27. Don’t Criticise Yourself to Death

Being critical of your own writing is important however you should only do this to a certain extent. Bickham says ‘don’t let your judgement get in the way because of your worry of not being good enough’. If you criticise yourself too much you could end up getting rid of the parts of your writing which are the best bits. I know that this is something that I am particularly guilty of, I am constantly going over what I have written in the past telling myself that it isn’t good enough and then spending too much time trying to improve it.

28. Don’t Worry What Mother Will Think

When you write you always have the thought of what others will think of what you have written, if they will think it is a brilliant idea or if they think you are disturbed for coming up with your idea. You shouldn’t let other people’s judgements get in the way of your writing. Bickham says that ‘fiction writing lets you be free so don’t be constrained’. If you consistently worry about other people’s thoughts about your writing you will find yourself censoring your writing, not including what you think might be better due to other people. This is something that I am guilty of without realising, I am always so eager to get my friends and family read my writing that I write to impress them.

29.Don’t Hide From Your Feelings

Remember to put emotion into your writing, the more you put in and don’t hold back, the more you will be able to connect with the reader. Bickham states ‘fiction characters who only think are dead’, I think this is such a brilliant way to put this, it makes it clear that if your characters don’t feel then they aren’t alive on the page in front of you. If you restrict your feelings, then you are doing the same to your characters. This is a mistake I think about a lot, especially since I often don’t show my feelings a lot in real life. I will always keep this in the back of my mind whilst writing, remembering that I need my characters to come to life on the page.

30. Don’t Take it to the Club Meeting

At university we were constantly told to make sure that we brought the next part of our story to class so everyone could discuss it. This thought always terrified me, I didn’t want my classmates tearing my work to shreds just because they didn’t see things the same way that I did. That didn’t happen though, everyone was too shy to comment and if they did they would only say nice things, I could never decide if that was what I wanted or not. Bickham says that if you get anyone to read and comment on your work it should be an editor, a professional, someone who knows what they are talking about. If you get just anyone to read it, you might end up with conflicting advice and never know what to do with it. This is something that I know I am guilty of, I always like a second opinion on my work to pick out my silly mistakes. I will soon be on a hunt to get professional advice but I have to get something finished first!


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