If you are a creative person who loves to write; the holy grail of writing has to be a novel. Creative writing is a challenging and time-consuming job, however, the sense of pride you feel after creating a masterpiece is worth all the work and dedication you put in.
Today we want to talk about writing a book, and some of the common mistakes people make as debut authors. It is no mean feat to create a literary masterpiece, but hopefully, by avoiding these mistakes you should be well on your way this year.
Underdeveloped side characters
The first and most common mistake that people make when writing a novel is creating side characters only as a tool to progress the main character. Although the purpose of side characters is to add depth to your protagonist and antagonist; great writers will put as much effort into forming a backstory for these characters as they do the hero. If you have a character in your book that could easily be erased without changing the story – either get rid of them or develop them. There is no point fluffing up your book with characters that no one cares about.
Inconsistent character descriptions
As you plan your novel, a helpful tool is to grab a notebook and jot down character profiles to reference later on. Once you come up with a character, it is all too easy to forget small details like eye color or height and change these throughout your book. This creates a confusing and unrealistic book for your audience and it takes the reader out of your world. Make sure to write down your character profiles and also consider sketching pictures of them to keep in mind for later on. As you continue to write your novel you can refer back to this and create better descriptions for your characters that help the reader visualize.
Grammar is the enemy of any novelist. When you are writing a book that has 60,000 plus words; it is easy to let a mistake or two falls through the cracks. Make sure you check your grammar using an app such as Grammarly or even ask someone else to check it for you. Bad grammar can scupper your chances of literary success.
One of the most important parts of your writing process is editing. It is very easy for first-time novelists to assume that once the whole draft is written, they are done. This is never the case. You should complete at least 2-3 rounds of edits after you have written the first manuscript and it is only at this point that you can consider publishing. Be sure to take the time to comb over every scene to find ways you can better describe events or create better dialogue.
Long and dull paragraphs
If you are an avid reader of books by George RR Martin; you likely assume that the best way to tell a story and set the scene is with 2 pages worth of description. This is not the case. Avoid clogging up your book with drawn-out dull paragraphs describing a room or the landscape around your characters. You need to strike a balance between enough description to allow visualization and too much that will lose the interest of the reader. Take a leaf out of many author’s books and ask a family member or partner to read over your book for you and point out these things.
Not enough dialogue
Dialogue can be tricky to write. For many writers dialogue is like marmite: you either love it or hate it. However, it is important to remember that much of the character development and story will come from dialogue and you need enough of it to form relationships between your characters that are meaningful and believable. Don’t avoid dialogue, just take your time and imagine how you would talk if you were to recreate the conversations in real life.
No true story arcs
Before you sit down and start writing a novel it is important to have a story arc in mind. Your book needs to have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Will your book be stand-alone or part of a trilogy? You need to consider where your characters will be when the book starts and where they need to be at the end – and make this happen. If you don’t plan out your story, you run the risk of creating something that seems stale and pointless.
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