Avoidable Mistakes in Fiction Writing

Writing a Book

Source

Too Many Characters

When a novice is writing a short story or a book of fiction for the first time, they often try to put too many characters in the first few pages. Each character needs to be developed, and reading a book where the first couple of pages has four or five character introduced is ineffective. There is obviously too much detail for the reader to assimilate in such a short space. Aim for a solid opening scene, and it is relatively simple to focus on just one or possible two characters in the first few pages.

As you describe the scene, you can also focus on an action, which is one way to introduce your characters more slowly. This gives the reader time to picture the scene, begin to know the character or characters and have an idea as to the theme of the story.

It might help you to write short vignettes of a conversation, or an action scene. Evaluate what you have written, and if you are satisfied move on to the next scene.

Avoid Using too Many Points

Sometimes stories can confuse the reader due to too many plot points in just a few pages. Be careful to use each plot point to build a specific scene. Action, pace and interest are the characteristics to strive for in each scene. Be specific with the information you write to give the reader a full picture.

It is important to only include information that furthers the plot, and leave out irrelevant details. For instance, if you are mentioning a postman whose only function is to deliver a letter, do not include his name or let us know he has a bad back.

Be imaginative with your writing. The wind blows, roars, rips, whips and so forth. The way you describe words will add a more interesting element to your writing.

Be aware of using too much irrelevant detail. Since the goal is to further the plot, enhance the characterization, while providing a sense of time and place. Save the details for your important characters.

Do you Lack Imagery?

Quite often new writers lack vibrant images, which makes their fiction flat. Avoid using old clichés and wisecracks. Wisecracks can be fine, but make them unique and fitting to the circumstances. Use imagery that matches the character in your story. For instance if the character is always busy running around, use imagery that relates to speed. Place the character in a scene or place that relates to speed, such as a speeding car or a fast moving train.

Writing

Source

Create a Sense of Place

It is important to show your readers where your characters work and where they live. If you don’t engage all the senses with your descriptions the characters will be floating around in a vacuum. If the story takes place in the seedy area of a big city, describe the look of the buildings, the smells and the type of people that live in the area. The same would hold true if the story takes place in suburban suburb. How does it look? How does the light shine on the homes?

Typically, authors describe how things look, but think about how does fear taste or how does anger smell. Be adventurous with your words to create the background of the story.

Dialogue Skills

The dialogue needs to sound real to keep the interest of the reader. The dialog should raise the conflict level to advance the story. While it is important to change the pace or intensity throughout the story, the intensity should gradually increase to produce greater anticipation in the reader. If it is bland, too complete or agreeable the level of conflict is not increased. Avoid characters that make long confessional speeches or ones that engage in long cozy chit chat discussions. Use the dialogue to provide essential information, and most importantly dialogue needs to show the character.

Always Read Numerous Books

Source

Writing Fiction

Writing Fiction: The Practical Guide from New York's Acclaimed Creative Writing School
Writing Fiction: The Practical Guide from New York's Acclaimed Creative Writing School

Gotham Writers' Workshop has mastered the art of teaching the craft of writing in a way that is practical, accessible, and entertaining. Now the techniques of this renowned school are available in this book. Here you'll find:

- The fundamental elements of fiction craft-character, plot, point of view, etc.-explained clearly and completely

- Key concepts illustrated with passages from great works of fiction

 

Grammar

Mistakes in grammar stick out like a sore thumb. It is essential to read and re-read your story to look for grammar mistakes and to make sure you don’t repeat the same words over and over again. Ideally when you complete your story set aside for a minimum of one week, then read your entire story out loud. Most of the time you will find errors that will leap out at you that you missed the first time around. Put a question mark by the problem areas as you read.

If you feel vaguely uncomfortable with a scene or passage ask yourself if this scene belongs in this story. You may want to cut the scene or re-write it, depending on its importance.

How to Write Better- Writing Tips on Voice, Tense, Perspective, Cliché

Finishing Up

Finally, after you make those last corrections, your story is complete. The extra time you spent re-reading and re-writing some sections of your book will pay off. It may make the difference in a publisher wanting to print your book.

Common Mistakes Review

Did you learn anything new about writing fiction stories and book.

  • I found this hub helpful and a good reminder of things I had forgotten.
  • I already knew most of these points.
  • I did not find this hub helpful.
See results without voting

© 2013 Pamela Oglesby

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Comments 39 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

All great tips, Pamela. I am aware of them and am currently writing a novel....these thoughts are always with me as I write one word after another. Thank you and enjoy your weekend.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

Hi Pamela, great hub, helpful and informative for a writer like me, new to fiction writing. I've mainly written poetry, but just started to try my hand at short stories. hanks, voted up.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa

Excellent tips, Pamela. Should be taken to heart by all writers of fiction until it become instinctive skills. Linking this to my hub, "The structure of a short story."


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Billy, I knew you were writing a novel and also that you knew about these tips. So many people are talking about writing their first novels that I thought this information might be helpful for them. Thanks for your comments and I look forward to the publishing of your nove.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Jodah, I am glad this hub was helpful to you. Good luck and I appreciate your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Martie, I fully agree. I appreciate your comments and the linking of the hub. I am going to look for your hub now.


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 2 years ago from Central Florida

Pamela, I agree with you on all these points. I will never say I'm a great fiction writer, although I'm working on being a good one. To get there, I look at what draws my attention and what turns me off.

I have run across a few short story series here on HP that I just can't read. There are too many characters introduced at the outset, plot is confusing (because there are too many mini-plots encapsulated in the story) and I just can't keep track. Especially when the chapters show up weeks from each other (as do mine) I find myself completely lost. Without some kind of a brief recap letting us know where we left off, I find it very difficult to keep up and know what's going on in the story. My solution has been to just not read them.


rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 2 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

Thanks, good general tips for writing,


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Rebecca, I appreciate your comments, and I am glad you found the tips useful.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Barbara, I have noticed some stories like that also and thought this hub might be helpful as we all want to write well. I did some research as to the most common problems, then wrote the hub. Thanks for your comments.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

Great points to ponder Pam. I am working on improving my writing skills. Reading aloud your story before publishing is vital. I find many mistakes that needs correction. Thank you for a well researched article....


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 2 years ago from The Beautiful South

You make some great points. I will stop reading when my head is spinning by the end of the 1st chapter. lol


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 2 years ago

Thank you for the excellent tips, Pamela. I look for these types of articles to help me write with skill and interest. Blessings.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Ruby, I use that method also and am often shocked at some of the things I missed. I appreciate your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Jackie, I am glad you found the hub useful. I appreciate your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Dianna, I also have read a lot of articles to help improve my writing skills. I am glad you found the article helpfu. Thanks for your comments.


DDE profile image

DDE 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Avoidable Mistakes in Fiction Writing such mistakes can be easily made and you pointed them out clearly and to the point.


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 2 years ago from Central Florida

Pamela, I assume you're replying to me when you address a comment to Barbara. Barbara is my mom. I'm Shauna. Nevertheless, this is a great hub.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

DDE, You are right. Thank you for your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Shauna, I am so sorry I mixed up the names and glad you let me know. Thanks for the comments.


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 2 years ago from Southern Georgia

Very useful article on avoiding mistakes many writer's make when first starting out. So many times less is more. Finding the right place between too much info and not enough is the trick I truly believe.


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 2 years ago from southern USA

Great article, Pamela! Thank you for providing useful information for writing fiction that we can all put into practice.

Up and more and sharing.

Blessings, Faith Reaper


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 2 years ago from Minnesota

Hi Pamela-Your information is really helpful; whether your a novice or not. Great tips that I plan to use. By the way, I noticed you have two i's in the word 'Did' in your poll. Love knowing even someone as experienced as you can make a spelling error now and then. LOL I hope you had a beautiful Thanksgiving with your family. Hub Hugs :-)


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

Thank you for sharing all the useful tips, Pamela. They will be very helpful for fiction writers!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Randy, I think that (less is more) is one of the harder concepts for new authors. Thanks so much for your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Faith, I am glad you found the article beneficial. I very much appreciate your comments and the share. God bless.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Linda, And to think I read it outloud before publishing! Thanks for your input and glad you liked the article. Thank you so much for your comments. I hope your holiday was wonderful also. Hugs to you too.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Alicia, I am glad you found the article useful, and thank you so much for your comments.


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

Pamela, excellent work and very use information. There are many aspiring writers on this site and we can all use a little reminder. thank you for sharing this, I'll be bookmarking for reference.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 2 years ago from New York

You've made some interesting points and reminded writers what to look for to keep a reader's attention. After all, if the reader isn't interested it's all over.

Voted up, useful, and interesting.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Jo, I'm glad you found the hub helpful and I appreciate your comments.

Mary, You're right. Keeping the writer's attention is the main priority. Thanks so much for your comments.


drbj profile image

drbj 2 years ago from south Florida

Excellent suggestions, Pamela, and the video is most worthwhile, too. Hope you are enjoying this holiday season.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

drbj, I appreciate your comments as always. I hope this holiday season is special for your also.


bat115 profile image

bat115 2 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

Nice hub. I am currently writing a novel and will have to go back and put your tips to use!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

batt115, I am glad you found the hub helpful. Thanks for your comments.


pochinuk 2 years ago

Pamela,

"....It might help you to write short vignettes of a conversation..."

I have been perusing hubs for advice and suggestions on fiction writing.

Your statement is insightful and helpful at this time.

Thank you.

It is encouraging to see (on Hupages)how others can in less than 1000 words produce small pieces of fiction that are time worthy; each representing their particular interests and plotscopes.

Glad you took the time to share your thoughts and give helps,

-pochinuk


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Christine, I appreciate your suggestions and your comments. I am glad you enjoyed the hub.


Rev. Akins profile image

Rev. Akins 2 years ago from Tucson, AZ

Thanks for the Hub, I am trying to convince myself that I can be a writer, but I keep thinking no one wants to hear what I have to say. I basically need to get over myself. Thanks, I am sure I will be coming back to this hub many times as needed. Great resource!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Rev. Akins, I am glad this hub is helpful. I wish you great success. Sometimes it just takes time for people to find you, but making comments on other people's hubs helps.

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