- Leading with the setup. If you’re like me, you thought you needed to give your reader some information up front so they would understand what was going on. I guess it was a little boring, but my reader was well prepared for the good stuff they never got to 🙂 Setup, regardless of how well written, is boring.
- Telling too much. Yes, I’m guilty of this one too. Remember backstory and passive voice distance the reader from the action. If your reader’s sense of immediacy is lost, meaning she can’t visualize the events as they occur, you may lose her.
- Scenes that lack conflict. You probably guessed I was guilty of this one too 🙂 I had scenes that were nothing but backstory and setup. I really feel bad for the family members and friends I asked to read my finished manuscript.
- Writing unsympathetic characters. Yes, I got this one right 🙂 Readers want to connect emotionally with the heroine and hero. They want to root for them, laugh with them, cry with them. Clearly establish the character’s motivation for behaving in any manner that might make them appear unsympathetic.
- Giving the reader a reason to stop reading. Don’t allow a chapter or scene to end on an anticlimactic moment. Always end scenes/chapters with a hook. And yes, I’m guilty of this one too 🙂
Something to think about.
Enough already! At least that’s how I feel sometimes. I’ve been through my book more times than I can count. In my own defense, no one taught me how to write. I had a great story idea and decided to give it a whirl.
I thought it was ready and then real life happened. My wonderful work was rejected by the five agents I sent it to. One of the them did see something promising and took it upon herself to provide me feedback about what I was doing wrong (there was a long list) and what I needed to do to improve my work.
I was totally humiliated. Grammatical and Structural errors are kindergarten stuff and completely unacceptable. Even I should have gotten those right. I could understand a little more my issues with head bopping and on-the-nose-writing. Those terms were totally foreign to me. I wasn’t a professional novelist. I thought all you had to do was put words on paper and create a wonderful story that everyone wanted to read. And what was the deal with dragging dialogue? My people were talking. How was I suppose to know dialogue moved the story forward or had to have some significance? I can’t believe I sent an agent such inferior work.
When you’re a newby you don’t know how bad your work is because you don’t have the knowledge and skills necessary to produce publishable work. You just think you do. While there may be a few prodigies out there, you probably aren’t one of them. Sorry!
Like myself and many others, you’re going to have to pay your dues and learn the craft. Then you will be ready to write that New York Times best seller.
I hope this got you newbies to thinking. After my slap in the face, I began reading ‘how to’ books, taking on-line classes, watching seminars and following blogs of people who were successful at their craft.
For the record just because it has taken me five years doesn’t mean it will take you that long. I lost some motivation after the initial rejections and took some time off. I regrouped, looked at the feedback I had gotten, and started educating myself on the art of writing fictional novels.
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