5 Mistakes New Writers Make

5 Mistakes New Writers Make

hey word nerds so today I want to talk to you about five common mistakes that newbie writers make and I specifically chose these five because there are things that I really struggled with when I first started writing so number one is a cliched beginning a lot of people start chapter 1 when they first start off writing with the same sort of scenes a big popular one is character wakes up in the morning I see that all the time whether I'm beta reading for somebody that's maybe newer in their writing journey or I for example when I was the literary assistant at the literary agency I ended up seeing a lot of openings like these the character wakes up in the morning maybe their alarm clock is buzzing they get out of bed and usually this goes straight to the mere scene where they look at the mirror and the author's using it as a way to describe what the character looks like this isn't necessarily always bad for example divergent has a scene in the mirror that shows you a little bit about the character and it's not just explaining what she looks like it's explaining a little bit about the different factions another really popular / cliche start of is a chapter that opens with a character running through the woods usually it's dark it's rainy it's scary the running from God knows what and the issue with this is that a it's cliche everyone does it and be as a reader I'm not invested in the book yet or the character I don't really know the character so I don't care if they end up getting eaten or killed or whatever by whatever is chasing them and it's too vague to really get invested too especially because I want you to hook me in the first chapter so I'm reading this and I don't know what is chasing the character or what they're running from these are just a couple examples of the really really overdone beginnings if you can make it more cliched overused openings two chapters feel free to pop them in the comments below number two is over description a lot of people in the narrative end up describing way too much of the setting for example or what the character looks like and I was super guilty of this when I wrote my first book ever it literally had pages I think three or four pages each time I would describe something like the character walks into this new apartment and oh my gosh here's what the kitchen looks like here's what the living room looks like here's ten pages description of what she's wearing oh my goodness nobody cares Aaron I had to go back and edit all of that once I realized I had thankfully had someone read it and tell me this is way too much and it was when I first started realizing oh I need to pull back and it was a little bit of a self-insert it was outfits I wanted to wear it was places I wanted to live in and since I thought would be really cool and I had to sort of rein my enthusiasm back on that a little bit and a lot of new writers are gonna be the same they're gonna be a little over-enthusiastic and describing things at first and that's okay when you've got a first draft go for it but when you read through again and do your edits keep in mind that it might be something you do as a new writer and shuck that description down number three is under describing of course we've got over describing and number two and now number three I'm going to hit you with the opposite thing so isn't that fun we have to find a perfect balance between the two because I as a newbie writer it's often tempting to just run through the action scene or the dialogue or whatever's going on between the characters a lot of times more interesting to us as writers but when we go back and look at that and the reader kind of gets the feeling that these characters or these events are happening in a blank white room that's called actually called white room syndrome when you've got maybe two characters talking to each other or whatever is going on in that scene and there's no description of anything around them they could be standing in an empty space and we wouldn't know the difference so whether you're using the five senses to let us know whether the character is smelling the home cooking on the stove or they lean against the doorway or they sit down in a couch and the couch springs are squeaky and she can hear that whatever it is that you use to describe the settings there should be at least a few lines to give us a general feeling as readers of where the characters are situated and what the what's going on with a setting essentially but again we go back to two and you have to find this great balance so nobody said it was easy number four is getting a little too enthusiastic with dialog tags and I am super guilty of this still I've been writing for what feels like forever and I still get a little too enthusiastic with a dialogue taking I have to rein myself back in I am very guilty of slipping in a whispered or a murmured or growled or a muttered instead of said and I'm not one of those people that's going to tell you that you can only use set and you're forbidden to use any other dialogue takes I don't believe that but I do think you have to have again with everything a balance so we shouldn't necessarily have a scene that's like give that to me Sarah cried no Jessica screamed stop it both of you Susan snapped welcome to a bunch of really white girls having a fight in the scene I guess so while you can get away with the odd creative dialogue tag here and there be careful not to sprinkle too many of them in number five and one of the biggest problems that newbie writers have is not giving their character enough agency their character should be driving the story forward they should be making decisions that have directly affect what happens in your plot so this is a really good thing to keep in mind when you're first starting to plot your story out does my character have agency because this was something I was very much guilty of when I first started writing things happen to my characters and they reacted to them and this is obviously this is going to happen sometimes it's inevitable that at some point something will happen that your character simply reacts to but the decisions they make should push the main part of the story along so that's it the top five mistakes newbie writers make there are lots more I'm sure if you can think of any let us know in the comments below I will probably do a part two of this video or an extension of it because it's just such a huge subject there's so many mistakes we first make when we're starting out don't forget 7:30 Eastern Standard Time the winners have our live chats on Sundays and we would love to see you there thanks for watching and I'll see you next week


  • Ostkupa says:

    Great advice! These are some of my worst pet peeves when it comes to reading.

  • Amy Sousa says:

    I definitely under describe, but after finishing a first draft I'll go back and try to add more. I honestly thought using dialogue tags instead of 'said' was what people wanted so I'm definitely going back and making sure I'm not overusing them too much. One thing I learned when I first started on my publishing journey is that I used WAY too many exclamation marks! I removed over 100 of them by the time the final draft was complete. I have a feeling that I'll still have to remove many more from the current books I'm working on 😅

  • Tricia R. says:

    Helpful video for both new & older writers stuck on particulars. I have been thinking (over thinking) a story idea for much too long w/o actually starting it and now have multiple scenarios running through my mind and that has led to major indecision on where to start with it. It's a problem! Going back to basics will hopefully help.

  • Serpentine Creative says:

    Yay! 1st comment. Love your content👍🏾

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