Rookie Writing Mistakes to Avoid

Hello friends! I haven’t been on this site for months now! Anyway, it’s good to be back and I have brought you a few rookie mistakes that I made. I am a strong believer in the saying, “Learn from other’s mistakes.” Hopefully, you will learn from mine! Many of you will already know to avoid these but if you are really new at writing, I am hoping these will help you.

Crashing into a solid form, I fell to the floor with a surprised yelp. When I looked up to see what I had crashed into, a tall boy stared back at me. He had smooth, sun kissed skin and caramel hair streaked with highlights and a strong jawline. His eyes were a mix of green and grey, with a tinge of mystery hidden in them. He had broad shoulders, a well muscled chest and abdomen, and was clothed with a leather jacket, a plain t-shirt, and jeans. When he spoke his voice was a coarse and deep, intriguing me.

The first thing about this little excerpt that tells me it was written by a rookie is the character data dump. Now, there’s nothing wrong with rookie writing, it’s all part of the learning experience but I hadn’t realized that this was a problem until someone else told me! So here I am, telling any beginner’s out there to avoid this if possible.

It congests the bonding between the characters if the main character notices every and any detail about a secondary character. If you use all your descriptions in one paragraph, you’ll never get to show how throughout the story, your main character notices the little things about the secondary character, not to the fact that most people will skip over this passage and miss what makes your secondary character special.

It really waters down the details is what I’m trying to say. Sure, first impressions you can describe basic features, but don’t over do it. Also, avoid a first chapter like this:

Hi! My name is Kandy Lhand and I’m 17 years old. My parents died when I was 3 so I’ve been in foster care since. I’m 5 ft 7 inches and am a senior in high school. I’m about 130 pounds and I have blonde hair and blue eyes. I’m pretty average, nothing special like the girls in the magazines but I’m okay with it. Unlike most girls, I don’t wear makeup because it makes my face feel weird and I’d much prefer a hoodie, converse, and pizza over a dress, heels and dieting. I go to Sunny dale blah blah blah.

Let the reader learn about the character throughout the story instead of laying down everything about them in one go.

On a different note, in the passage above are two cliches I really don’t like. While I know that most of you talented writers are more creative than to use these girl protagonist cliches, I know I’ve been tempted to use them so here’s a warning.

Please, I’m begging any beginner writer, to avoid following the cliche, I’m not like other girls. It not only sends the message that being girly is something to be looked down upon, it also makes your character seem like a brat. It also stereotypes all girls into one category. And don’t be afraid to make your character, if she is a girl, girly. There’s nothing wrong with dresses, makeup, heels, nail polish, so forth and so on. This also brings me to the point that another author who’s post I read brought up. Just because your protagonist girl, (if she does) to be put frankly, kicks ass doesn’t mean she can’t enjoy “feminine” activities. The example the author who’s post I read gave was a book she had read where the girl didn’t take (to put mildly) crap from anyone found she loved wearing dresses. There. Is. Nothing. Wrong. With. That. Of course, your main character doesn’t have to like “girly” things but make sure you are clear that you aren’t hating on people who do.

The next common cliche is the I’m average, not very pretty but in reality I’m gorgeous and way beyond average. I’m not saying you can’t make your main character pretty, I’m not saying you can’t make your character insecure, but please do not make your character unrealistically amazing and continue on saying they are nothing unusual. It’s annoying and makes the reader feel bad about themselves often. Plus, it’s refreshing to see a confident protagonist.

Another rookie mistake in this passage is the over use of adjectives. Adjectives are useful, descriptive words are useful, but don’t over do it. Sometimes, writers like myself, get caught up on trying to describe a scene, bring it to life! and then we realize it’s just muddying everything, not to mention it slows down the plot and sometimes bores the reader. For example:

The lakeside house that we were going to spend the week in was beautiful. It was simplistic, had access to many water activities, and was located in a serene area.

VS.

The lakeside house we were going to spend the week in was beautiful. It had a rich, wooden exterior with a stone pathway to the front door. The inside was well furnished and had large, clear, glass panels that revealed the majestic sparkling lake with clear pristine water. The mountains around were filled with rich vegetation that separated us from the noise and pollution of the city. There was so much we could do, like spending the night watching the vivid sky on the nice deck, or jet skiing blah blah blah. 

Sure, the second paragraph was descriptive and sent a nice mental image, but the first summed it up easily. The second was mostly filler details that frankly, didn’t need to be mentioned. To avoid this, stop thinking hard about how you’re going to describe something, don’t use extra wording to make yourself sound like a better writer, and tell the story with what it needs.

Next up is one I struggle to avoid. It’s the awkward at the beginning of every sentence use the same subject. 

For example:

I bent down to pick up the book. I then walked to the librarian and checked out the book. I walked outside the library just as it begins to rain. I covered my head with my jacket. Then I ran through the rain. I cursed as the book gets wet. I could only hope it would dry alright.

OR

He ran through the aisle in panic. He could faintly hear the footsteps behind him. He thought quickly, running to the right. He passed a couple of people with questioning faces before he ran back outside again. He sprinted down the street away from the people. He was almost to his house. He opened the door and locked it behind him quickly. He slumped to the floor, breathing heavily. He was exhausted. He, he he he he…

Now, while the first few lines of the second paragraph may not have sounded too bad, you noticed it got repetitive quickly and sounded choppy as well. The first one is a beautiful example of that. It just doesn’t flow. Try to mix it up a little bit and don’t always try to tell the story from what the character observes but rather what is happening.

Sorry that half of this was a rant! Hope that helped a few of the beginners out there and remember, not all rules have to be followed! Find your own style of writing but keep these in mind! Happy writings!

-Katie

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