This is similar to crawling, before you can walk. If I want to take it a step further, study writing, before you read. Study split infinitives, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, the difference between UK English and American English, em-dashes, en-dashes, run-on, nouns, point of views, character archetypes, and a ton of other stuff, I’ve failed to mention. But! This will happen to you, when you study writing.
- You will be able to spot, when a writer slips in and out of their chosen point-of-views. I couldn’t begin to tell you, how many writers have fucked this up. Even the most well-known authors, have slipped from third person-omniscient to third person-limited. Sometimes, they slip in and out of point of views in one chapter. It drives me nuts.
- You will be able to tell if they wrote their books in present and past tense. You wouldn’t believe how many popular authors, I’ve caught slipping from present to past tense. If it’s in past, you need “said” not “says/say.” This is extremely important. You will jar the reader, when you slip in and out of present or past tense.
- You can tell, who really studied, and who is full of hot air. Some younger writers appear to me that they’ve used a thesaurus. I swear, I see a word thrown in here or there that they’ve never used before. You can spot it quickly.
- Who loves using adjectives or words that end in -ly. It overshadows the sentence and that is why they tell us to take the -ly’s out. You can leave a few in, but it can’t overshadow every single sentence. How did he run? “He ran quickly to the store.” Instead of… “He ran to the store.” You don’t need quickly in there. You’re already running and most people assume, you’re running quickly anyway. Pull those fuckers out. You don’t need them. “He romantically stared into her eyes.” Instead of… “He gazed at her, with love in his eyes.” Do you see the difference?
- Made-up words. I use them a ton. Put those in quotation marks, so that your readers don’t think you’re an idiot. I use the word “fugly.” I love fake words. I use them a ton. Quotes, put them in quotation marks. Inner dialogue, italicize it. Don’t stick that in quotes either.
- This kills me worse than anything. Do you enjoy hunting for dialogue in a paragraph? The newer writers are bad for this. We fail to align dialogue to the left side. We also don’t know how to use dialogue tag(s) properly. He asks, she asks, they ask. She said, he said, they said, we said. It repeats like a broken record. To me, it’s like nails going down a chalk/blackboard. Include an action, when using dialogue tags. He picked up a bottle of water and turned to talk to so-and-so. I don’t use the said and asks, if at all. I make my characters do something, when they’re talking. I try to align their dialogues to the left. I can’t stand hunting and finding dialogue in a lengthy paragraph. It bugs me.
- Plots… some writers regurgitate the same plots. You want to see something new and unusual.
- Really study the character archetypes. If you don’t know what they are, you might want to spend time, researching those. Who is the saint, villain, the wise shrew, the drama queen, the hot-tempered, rebellious character, the hero, the heroine, the magician… etc? I would advise you to read Chaucer’s “Canterbury’s Tales,” to figure out character archetypes. It may be a boring read, but I love it.
- Commas… I’ll admit that I’m a comma chameleon. I love my commas. Sometimes, I overuse them or not use them enough. It’s hard to balance the force on those. When you use commas, make sure you use semi-colons. Learn and read grammar advice.
- Em and en dashes. There’s a huge difference between the two. Study them both. I don’t know about you, but there are some writers that overuse the em dashes. Newer authors love to plague us with those em dashes. I read “The Telling” the other day and boy, in one paragraph, I found at least twenty em dashes in a row. She could have italicized that one paragraph. It makes it difficult to read.
- People aren’t stupid. There are a ton of people, who can accurately decipher a mess and a great novel. Readers, read. They know well enough by now, who can write a novel and who shouldn’t claim to be an author. You haven’t learned anything, if you stick with mainstream novels. Those aren’t written as well as some of the classics are. Yes, they may seem like a dull read, but I can flip through a classic faster than a mainstream or popular author these days. You can also tell, who overwrites. There are a ton of writers, who spend twenty pages on a fucking wall. I’m not lying. I had to smack my head a few times. It drives me nuts! I don’t care if the paint is chipping off the walls. I’m in the here and now. If I were a character, I wouldn’t notice those things. I also, wouldn’t notice someone’s eyes from across the room. I barely can see someone’s eyes a few feet away from me. Your character must have near perfect eye sight, if they can see someone’s eyes from across the room. You might want to make them a vampire. I have terrible vision. I can’t see my husband’s eyes or the bulge in his pants from across the room. I have to roll my eyes, when I see it in books. I make sure to exclude those in my books. Put your loved one across the room. If you can’t see him/her… you might want to change what you can see from across the room. It’s bad, laughable even.
- Love at first sight. Yes, you can say they are attractive and they may turn your character on. But really, your character is falling in love with a person as soon as they see them? Oh, that insta-love is moving fast, folks! That drives me nuts. He/she didn’t get a word out and he/she could be a real prick. But, your character is already in love with them. It shows to me, that character is weak, naive, dumb, and a people pleaser. When I noticed a hot person… I say that person is attractive. I don’t fall in love that easily. They can be the most attractive person in the world until they open their mouths. They can say the dumbest things that make them unattractive. I really hit my head on insta-love. The next chapter over, they are already talking about children and marriage. No connections, jokes, or anything. They are already walking down that aisle. That’s unrealistic. That doesn’t happen in real life. And if it does happen, I’ll see you in divorce court. Take your time, just like in real life. We need to teach young teens that love doesn’t happen that way. It’s called, communication. Don’t have your characters telling each other, that they love each other right away. Healthy relationships, start slow.
- Build suspense. Even if it’s a romantic three-way going down. Build some damn suspense. Make it long, while you’re at it. New writers struggle with this all the time. It’s over in one paragraph, not a chapter.
- Chapter breaks. You can see who LOVES using them, instead of writing a new chapter. I try not to use those as much. There are times, I have no choice but to use those and don’t need a new chapter. I swear, I read someone’s book, who changes the scene twenty times and fails to use a new chapter. Honey, I need a break sometime. Please, put it in a new chapter. I can’t wait 20 pages later. I hate your scene breaks. You should only have three scene changes in one chapter, not fifty. If you read earlier works from authors, you’ll see what I see. We have multiple scene breaks but no new chapters. It makes it a longer and dull read.
- Grammatical errors. When you become a writer and return to read someone else’s work, you will be able to spot out errors like nobody’s business. Oh, jeeze! I spend more time correcting than reading. I’ll bookmark that shit and point it out in a review. What really gets me… is when other writers boast about their shit and boy, they’ve got errors in their first books. You’ve seen their interviews. E.L James is torn left and right from popular authors. But, hey… writers like me find errors in those other writers. Stephen King has no room to talk. J.K. Rowling also has no room to talk. Go read their earlier works. I’ve found adjectives, split infinitives, missing quotation marks, words that aren’t capitalized, sentences that aren’t italicized when they should be. James isn’t a great writer, she never claims to be. But those flipping their noses down on her, really need to make sure their shit doesn’t stink. Go re-read “The Shining.” King’s first edition. Go read Rice’s first edition of “Interview With A Vampire.” I found numerous errors. Yeah, King has split infinitives, misspellings, words that should be capitalized, missing quotation marks, etc. He’s not as perfect as people seem to believe. I have no problems, calling writers out. I don’t care who they are. I know I’m not perfect. You’re going to find errors. No writer is 100% perfect. Obviously, no editor or team of editors are perfect either. These are people who drown writers in costs and they miss a ton of shit. If any writer claims they’ve written the “perfect” book, I’m calling them out and a liar. I promise you, I will find errors. It doesn’t matter if they’re a “classic” writer or a “modern” writer, I’ll find those errors. I have a nose for that shit. King needs to take a seat before he gripes about other writers. He’s not perfect either.
There are no perfect writers out there. If you become a writer, then return to reading, you will spot errors left and right. You will also DNF (did not finish) a book, quicker than anything. We are trying to sell books to non-writers. Of course, they are going to four or five-star your book (if they enjoyed reading it). They don’t see what other writers see. When you become a writer, you see everything. It’s a part of your brain that unlocks the deep dark secrets to a world, you know. The problem is that you will be able to find the errors in other books, but not your own. I promise you, I have errors in all my books. Not as bad as other books, but they are there. All I can do is edit like a mofo and edit as best as I can. I can’t trust an editor these days. Not even a fully developed team.When you slip out of point of views, that’s a problem for me. You don’t realize how many popular and non-popular writers fail to understand the differences between third person-limited and third person-omniscient. Sometimes the narrator becomes a character in itself. Stephen King is bad for that. That’s why he’s in the horror section. He’s good at what he does. He still isn’t perfect, though.
To all aspiring writers, please pick up a book. You can’t write a decent novel without reading. And when you read, pick up books from different genres & years. Read everything. You need to expand your vocabulary and see how other writers, form their sentences. It kills me, when writers say they don’t read. That means you’re naive. Your book will be riddled with errors. You need to see other plots. Doctors study other doctors, before they perform surgery. The first thing they ask you online or in person, “Who is your favorite author and book?” If you don’t have an answer for this question, start reading. If you only read one book in your lifetime, you better start reading. Because their next question will be this. “Why did/do you like that author and their book?” I hope you love tap dancing. Because you will do a ton of it, when asked that question. We can argue all day about this, but you need to read. When you read other books, study them. Study them inside and out. Study their plots, characters, and sentence structure. Have a notebook with you or bookmark it. Write an in-depth review on that chosen book. Why? So, you can tell other readers what you liked and disliked about that book. You can practice honing in your writing skills by writing reviews. I have different tiers for star rewards. One star for book cover, one star for plot, one star for proper grammar, one star for staying in the right tense, and one star for point of view. You always begin a review with what you liked or disliked about a book. Make sure you include both, so that those writers can fix their works. We don’t know what’s wrong, unless YOU point it out to us. We can only improve by our toughest critics. Don’t say this. “This book is stupid,” and leave it like that. We can’t improve on stupid.
If you for whatever reason, can’t download a copy, write to us first. Don’t leave a one star review stating this… “I couldn’t download this book.” Send us a message and we will send you a PDF copy for FREE. If writers aren’t doing this, then leave that one star review. My readers come first. If you didn’t get a copy, let me know. I’m on top of that shit. That’s just good customer service. I want you to be fully satisfied, not rammed without the Vaseline.
I’m sure this post is riddled with errors. I’m not perfect and don’t claim to be. But, my readers come first. All I can do, is try my best.