07 June 2010

Writing Blunders to avoid

Novelist Jerry B. Jenkins published a list of "8 Basic Writing Blunders" over at Writer's Digest. I have to say I really agree with all of them! Don't write these:
  • Morning-routine cliche Too many scenes have opened with the protag waking up in bed, etc.
  • Answering-the-phone cliche Too many scenes have opened with this.
  • The clutter of detail Here are electricspec, we call this "walking the dog", e.g. He walked across the hardwood floor to the antique dressing table and opened the drawer. He took out the leash, flexing it in his hand. He called Spot to him...etc.
  • Skip the recitals of ordinary life Boring! Enough said.
  • Don't spell it out Never describe the writing in the writing. Actually, this is closely related to the famous "Show, don't tell." If you show us the characters, you won't have to tell us.
  • Pass on the preachiness Do you like to be preached to?
  • Setting the scene Don't overdo descriptions; let the reader imagine.
  • Coincidences Coincidences are very bad in fiction

What do you think? Do you agree with the list? What do you think are some writing blunders to avoided?

Send us your (blunder-free) stories!


Betsy Dornbusch said...

I think setting the scene could be revised to "Focus on key details." But other than that I agree.

Also, starting with a dream or flashback or any other device that "tricks" the reader into thinking that's the story, using a lot of dialogue tags other than said. Using a lot of dialogue tags, period. Get your characters up and moving and make what they say discernible from the other characters' words. Gee, I could go on...

David E. Hughes said...

I agree-and we see these too often.

Catherine Stine said...

Yes, yes and yes. I routinely cut my first chapters, and start in the action that follows the set up. You don't want to see the scaffolding, but it needs to be there.

Keith said...

>> Coincidences - Coincidences are very bad in fiction

I disagree fiction is all about coincidences. I agree that stupid ones that move a poor plot are bad, but without coincidences, what is left is mostly boring real life.

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