Ten Things That Dismiss You as an Amateur Writer

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Ten Things That Dismiss You as an Amateur Writer

Post by BC Williams on Tue 31 May 2011, 7:20 am

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Repeating words: words that crop up more than once on a single page, or having crutch words/phrases used often enough for readers to pick up on.

Flat writing: She thought she saw something, but wasn't sure . . . or . . . Jennifer couldn't believe her eyes when she looked at the irregular hole in the wall and thought she saw blood running out of it!

Empty adverbs: actually, completely, continually, constantly, etc.

Phony dialog: Be careful using dialog to advance the plot. Avoid words that are fashionable in conversation. “Hey, dog!” might work right now or even for a few years but will soon be outdated.

No-good suffixes: like adding ness: characterlessness,
ize: statementize,
ly to ing: groundbreakingly (don't laugh, People Magazine has used this!) . . . .

The to be words: am, is, are, was, were, be, being, been. An example – It was Frank who went with Jill to the basketball game. Rather: Frank went with Jill to the basketball game.

Lists: I went to the grocery and bought milk, bread, mustard, canned soup, cereal . . . . When you list items as though we're checking them off with a clipboard, the readers internal eye will stop. (I'm guilty of this in one of my stories!)

Show, don't tell: The girl was blond, tall, and had the most gorgeous legs I'd ever seen. Or: When she walked through the door flipping that honey-colored hair over one shoulder, I couldn't help gawking at her beautiful, long legs.

Awkward phrasing: She found a dead mouse, laughingly, at the bottom of her dresser drawer! YIKES! - humor interjected improperly. Try: She found a dead mouse at the bottom of her dresser drawer and couldn't help laughing about it!

Commas: Jill ran to the top of the hill and when she saw Jack lagging behind she turned around splashing him with the contents of her pail. Compound sentences DO need commas! Jill ran to the top of the hill, and when she saw Jack lagging behind, she turned around, splashing him with the contents of her pail.

© Feb 2006 by BC Williams

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