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8 Common Novel Writing Mistakes Even Good Writers May Make

8 Common Novel Writing Mistakes Even Good Writers May Make

Let’s look at some common novel writing mistakes which any writer can make, no matter how many novels you’ve written. When I wrote my first novel, way back in the 1970s, a publisher bought it, and I thought I had it made. I knew how to write novels! That joy soon turned to horror when I discovered that writing one novel hardly made me an expert. Over the years, I’ve made many mistakes.

Vital tip: there’s really just ONE mistake you can make when writing a novel: you fail to finish it. All of your mistakes can be fixed, except that one.

Let’s look at some common mistakes so you can avoid them, or fix them.

Mistake 1: You try to write and edit at the same time.

Whether this is your first novel or your fiftieth, your head’s packed with rules when you write. Do this; don’t do that. All those rules will cripple your writing. When you write, just write. Leave the rules for later, during the editing process.

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If you try to edit while you write, not only will you stifle your creativity, you’ll end up with writer’s block. Yes, some writers can edit while they’re writing. They’ll write a scene, and will edit it immediately. Perhaps this is your writing process. If that’s so, you’ll know it, because you’re energized by it. On the other hand, if you start doubting yourself while you edit, complete the first draft, and then edit.

Mistake 2: There’s no conflict. Everyone gets along.

Tolstoy started Anna Karenina with the sentence: Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

He didn’t write about happy people. Happy people, no matter how wonderful they are in real life, are boring in fiction. If everyone in your novel is happy, your readers won’t be–they have no reason to read. By all means, have a happy ending, but make sure that your characters suffer along the way; make them work for their happy ending.

Tip: no one gets along in your novel. Just as in real life, we may love people, but we nevertheless dislike them occasionally. Think about your relationship with your partner, or your siblings. How often do you agree with everything they do or say?

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Make sure you have conflict on every page of your novel.

Mistake 3: Your novel’s predictable.

Read in your genre. Currently in romance fiction, billionaires are hot. If you want to write a romance featuring a hero who’s a billionaire, by all means do so. However, remember that readers who read these stories read a lot of them. They know what the tropes are. Even though you need to meet your reader’s expectations for their genre, you also need to surprise them.

Read novels’ descriptions and reader reviews on Amazon. The reviews will tell you what readers enjoy, and what they don’t. Avoid making your novel too similar to others, so that you can avoid being predictable.

Mistake 4: Your characters are cliched, or stereotyped.

Every genre of fiction has its cliches. Avoid them, if you can. Sometimes they’re unavoidable. What would historical romance be without the rake who’s transformed by love? Shady ladies who have hearts of gold are staples in many genres too.

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If you must use a cliche character like the rebel with or without a cause, give the cliche a twist.

Mistake 5: Your lead characters are unlikable.

If your heroine is a whiner, the reader will toss your book against the wall, or will delete it from her Kindle. Your leads need to be likable–people who deserve their happy ending. They need big problems, and the strength to win out when everything seems against them. They need to be admirable–even your villains need one admirable trait; otherwise, they’re cartoons.

Mistake 6: You keep writing when you’re bored.

If you’re bored with your book, your readers will be, too.

Raymond Chandler’s advice was: “When in doubt, have a man come through a door with a gun in his hand.”

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If your carefully plotted novel puts you to sleep, bring on the man with the gun.

Mistake 7: You write what you don’t read.

It’s tempting to jump onto the currently hot genre, whatever it may be. If you can’t read paranormal novels (vampires make you feel ill, and you think shape shifters are ridiculous) you won’t write a readable paranormal novel.

Write in genres which you read with enjoyment.

Mistake 8: All your characters sound the same.

In your first draft, your only job is to write through to the end of your novel. In your second draft, it’s time to think about your characters, and ensure that each character acts and speaks like himself.

Writing a novel is a huge, but very rewarding, undertaking. It’s easy to make novel writing mistakes. As soon as you become aware of them, do your best to correct them.

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Last Updated on January 3, 2020

The 10 Essential Habits of Positive People

The 10 Essential Habits of Positive People

Are you waiting for life events to turn out the way you want so that you can feel more positive about your life? Do you find yourself having pre-conditions to your sense of well-being, thinking that certain things must happen for you to be happier? Do you think there is no way that your life stresses can make you anything other than “stressed out” and that other people just don’t understand?  If your answer is “yes” to any of these questions, you might find yourself lingering in the land of negativity for too long!

The following are some tips to keep positive no matter what comes your way. This post will help you stop looking for what psychologists call “positivity” in all the wrong places!  Here are the ten essential habits of positive people.

1. Positive people don’t confuse quitting with letting go.

Instead of hanging on to ideas, beliefs, and even people that are no longer healthy for them, they trust their judgement to let go of negative forces in their lives.  Especially in terms of relationships, they subscribe to The Relationship Prayer which goes:

 I will grant myself the ability to trust the healthy people in my life … 

To set limits with, or let go of, the negative ones … 

And to have the wisdom to know the DIFFERENCE!

 2.  Positive people don’t just have a good day – they make a good day.

Waiting, hoping and wishing seldom have a place in the vocabulary of positive individuals. Rather, they use strong words that are pro-active and not reactive. Passivity leads to a lack of involvement, while positive people get very involved in constructing their lives. They work to make changes to feel better in tough times rather than wish their feelings away.

3. For the positive person, the past stays in the past.

Good and bad memories alike stay where they belong – in the past where they happened. They don’t spend much time pining for the good ol’ days because they are too busy making new memories now. The negative pulls from the past are used not for self-flagellation or unproductive regret, but rather productive regret where they use lessons learned as stepping stones towards a better future.

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4. Show me a positive person and I can show you a grateful person.

The most positive people are the most grateful people.  They do not focus on the potholes of their lives.  They focus on the pot of gold that awaits them every day, with new smells, sights, feelings and experiences.  They see life as a treasure chest full of wonder.

5. Rather than being stuck in their limitations, positive people are energized by their possibilities.

Optimistic people focus on what they can do, not what they can’t do.  They are not fooled to think that there is a perfect solution to every problem, and are confident that there are many solutions and possibilities.  They are not afraid to attempt new solutions to old problems, rather than spin their wheels expecting things to be different this time.  They refuse to be like Charlie Brown expecting that this time Lucy will not pull the football from him!

6. Positive people do not let their fears interfere with their lives!

Positive people have observed that those who are defined and pulled back by their fears never really truly live a full life. While proceeding with appropriate caution, they do not let fear keep them from trying new things. They realize that even failures are necessary steps for a successful life. They have confidence that they can get back up when they are knocked down by life events or their own mistakes, due to a strong belief in their personal resilience.

7. Positive people smile a lot!

When you feel positive on the inside it is like you are smiling from within, and these smiles are contagious. Furthermore, the more others are with positive people, the more they tend to smile too! They see the lightness in life, and have a sense of humor even when it is about themselves. Positive people have a high degree of self-respect, but refuse to take themselves too seriously!

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8. People who are positive are great communicators.

They realize that assertive, confident communication is the only way to connect with others in everyday life.  They avoid judgmental, angry interchanges, and do not let someone else’s blow up give them a reason to react in kind. Rather, they express themselves with tact and finesse.  They also refuse to be non-assertive and let people push them around. They refuse to own problems that belong to someone else.

9. Positive people realize that if you live long enough, there are times for great pain and sadness.

One of the most common misperceptions about positive people is that to be positive, you must always be happy. This can not be further from the truth. Anyone who has any depth at all is certainly not happy all the time.  Being sad, angry, disappointed are all essential emotions in life. How else would you ever develop empathy for others if you lived a life of denial and shallow emotions? Positive people do not run from the gamut of emotions, and accept that part of the healing process is to allow themselves to experience all types of feelings, not only the happy ones. A positive person always holds the hope that there is light at the end of the darkness.  

10. Positive person are empowered people – they refuse to blame others and are not victims in life.

Positive people seek the help and support of others who are supportive and safe.They limit interactions with those who are toxic in any manner, even if it comes to legal action and physical estrangement such as in the case of abuse. They have identified their own basic human rights, and they respect themselves too much to play the part of a victim. There is no place for holding grudges with a positive mindset. Forgiveness helps positive people become better, not bitter.

How about you?  How many habits of positive people do you personally find in yourself?  If you lack even a few of these 10 essential habits, you might find that the expected treasure at the end of the rainbow was not all that it was cracked up to be. How could it — if you keep on bringing a negative attitude around?

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I wish you well in keeping positive, because as we all know, there is certainly nothing positive about being negative!

Featured photo credit: Janaína Castelo Branco via flickr.com

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