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    MsJacquiiC Poetica Magnifique

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    Improve your writing by avoiding these ten common writing mistakes.
    1. Putting It Off

    If you want to be a writer, you’ve got to actually sit down and write. Or stand, or lie down, or hang from the ceiling if you’d rather, but if you don’t get the words from your head to the paper, there’s no point. It’s very easy to procrastinate from writing; there’s actually nothing easier. There’s always some reason not to write right now. The dog needs water. Your kid wants to play. You feel uninspired. Your desk is too messy. But if you really want to write, you cannot allow yourself to postpone your work for any reason. Set a time for yourself to get down to work, and when that time comes, be firm with yourself. Do not let anything stop you.

    If you find you aren’t getting down to work, don’t make the mistake of blaming your family for it. They’re not the ones who need to do the writing, you are! If all you do is make excuses and blame others, you are not a writer. Because writers actually write.

    Now you may have some vague idea that being a writer is a lazy job. You get to sit at home, eating whatever’s in the fridge, turning on the television when you feel like it, writing when you feel the muse. It’s just not true. If you wait for inspiration to hit, you’ll be waiting for years. Quit procrastinating and treat it like the real job that it is.

    2. Long Descriptions

    Leave out the long descriptions from your writing. Why? Because nobody likes to read them. I mean, really, say the flower is beautiful, but don’t describe every petal. Give me the atmosphere of the restaurant without naming every item on the menu. Sure, it adds to your word count to have long descriptions, and you may have a word count you’re shooting for, but your editor (if he’s good) will cut it. Save yourself the grief and be concise in your writing.

    This is not to say that you should leave out all descriptions. Your reader needs some idea of what the characters look like. Just get it over with as quickly as possible and get on with the action of the story.

    3. Flat Characters

    Avoid flat, uninteresting characters. If they are dull, the story will be dull as well. Give your characters quirks and problems and bad habits and friends. Nobody wants to read about a woman who goes home from work, makes dinner, watches TV, and goes to bed. Boring! Instead, let her go home from work, walk in the door to find her water heater has broken, house flooded, bits of important paperwork floating everywhere, dog swimming somewhere back in the hall, etc. There has to be action in your character’s life.

    If you are basing your character on a real person (don’t - you could get sued), then exaggerate the qualities of that person until the character is almost a caricature. Go off on enough tangents, add strange obsessions or rude behavior or crippling anxiety. Give your character a bad haircut and ripped stockings or a big zit. Make the people as colorful as possible.

    4. Lecturing

    In real life we can learn a lot from lectures. In your writing, however, let the information come through the action and dialogue rather than a lecture. For example, if you need your reader to understand how your character has a flashy and complicated job as a lawyer, don’t write long descriptions (there’s that description problem again) about what he does each day at the office. Instead, let the character get frazzled, frustrated, annoyed. Have his customers complain or let him get yelled at by his boss. Use action instead of lecture.

    5. Making up the Facts

    Even if you are writing fiction, it’s important to pepper your story with real facts. Say, for example, you are still working on your story about a lawyer. If you don’t know what a tort is, either look it up or don’t use that word in your writing. Using the word incorrectly will irritate your readers who actually know what it means. If there’s going to be a courtroom scene, you might want to hoof it down to an actual courtroom and watch the proceedings. Do your research and you will have a better story.

    6. Poor Grammar, Spelling or Usage

    You can have the best story in the world, but if it’s full of grammatical mistakes it will be unreadable and certainly unsaleable. I once taught a college course in which I required the students to write a three page paper. Three pages seems pretty short to me, but it was the first assignment I had given and I wanted to get a feel for what my students could do. Oh, how they whined and complained about it! When I received the papers back, I was appalled at the poor quality of writing. Appalled! There were fragments, run-on sentences, misspelled words, sentences that didn’t make any sense at all, and more. How did these people graduate from high school, I wondered? Don’t they even know how to use a spell checker?

    If you want to write for a living, then write. But if you know you are bad at grammar, spelling and usage, then get a friend to proofread your work before you ever show it to anyone.

    7. Don’t Be Illogical

    Did you see the movie, Magnolia, with Tom Cruise? Well, it’s a good movie, but when you get to the end, suddenly frogs are raining down on everybody. Honestly, it doesn’t make any sense at all and really sort of ruins the movie.

    In your writing, don’t rain down the frogs. Illogical or surreal events can ruin a story. Don’t have your murderer be a character that doesn’t pop up until ten pages before the ending. Don’t let your character suddenly shoot off into space for no apparent reason. Give clues as you write, build the suspense, let the reader have a chance at guessing the outcome.

    8. Giving in to Self-Doubt

    Writing is a very isolating practice. It is very easy to get critical of your own work and think it’s all just crap. What you have to realize is that writing is a process. You can’t turn a rough work into a professional one if you have wadded it up and thrown it away. Take your original writing, crappy though it may be, and polish it. Tweak it. Reword sentences, move them around, play with it until it makes more sense and reads more smoothly.

    It’s natural to worry about your own work, to wonder if anyone else will like it. That’s okay, just don’t let it hinder you from doing what you really want to do.

    9. Apologizing

    When you have a finished piece to show to an agent or editor, don’t apologize for anything. Imagine trying to sell your piece and starting the conversation with, "I’m so sorry it’s so short. I just didn’t have any more to say." What impression are you giving? That you are short on words? That you don’t like your own writing? Get over it and be positive about your writing.

    10. Trying to Be Someone Else

    You have to use your own voice, your own ideas, and your own style when you write. If you try to write in someone else’s voice or style just to please an editor or get published, your writing will be stunted and awkward. Please yourself in your writing, and your writing will be good.

    Now, go back to #1 and GET STARTED!!




    [ Source: Googobits.com • Author: Jennifer Lovvorn Parker ]

    Attached Files:



    Posted By MsJacquiiC | May 16, 2011
    #1

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    butchiesmom JPiC Premium VIP Member

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    I've read this piece and more with the same message over the years. I'm guilty of all the mistakes and probably more.

    I still think my work is crap but print it out and go on to other scenes and procrastination. When I do return to it, I've had two opinions. One: I wrote this! Two I wrote this? Either way, I've gone back and found places to improve or delete altogether. (I have a file with deleted paragraphs).

    All in all, a great message for writers. Thanks for posting this, Sis.
    Gail
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    MsJacquiiC Poetica Magnifique

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    You're welcome - I too have seen very similar infos posted - there's some already posted in our lit articles database... I like to share this stuff so... Thought I'd share :friends:

    Anyway - of the listed - I'm guilty of them all except for #10 I'd say - I've tried writing in the style of other poets as a means of "feeling" their creativity and enhancing my own. Even when doing that though - my writing is a testimony from the myriad voices of 100% ME! :)


    Posted By MsJacquiiC | May 19, 2011
    #3

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