Fiction Writing: Three Common Mistakes

We live in a world where a lot of grammar rules are tossed out the window in favor of expression.  Sometimes, it’s hard to break away from them, especially when we’ve grown so accustomed to having them around in school.  There is such thing as a run on sentence.  Authors do use exposition to tell a story.  Most writers seem to agree that knowing when to break these rules for a strong effect is very much appropriate.
George Martin, Jim Harrison, and Cormac McCarthy are just a few very successful authors who break the rules they want to break, and the result is a strong impression on the reader.
So, what are the unwritten rules regarding fiction writing?  In my opinion, I don’t believe there are many rules to the medium.  The only rules, truly, are for basic grammar.  When it comes to your fiction writing, use common sense.  Write what you want, how you want, and be coherent.  To improve your form, read.  I can’t stress that enough.  How many musicians are out there that don’t listen to music?  Well, I don’t know how many, but there can’t be a whole lot.  Read a bunch of books, and develop your craft, your own style.
If you want to improve your craft, here are some mistakes new writers tend to make:

  • Name dumping.  Yeah, you know what I’m talking about here.  John Clemens scratched his northern Irish beard while sitting underneath the English Oak Tree and thinking about Marie Taggard, The Cobbler’s wife, who lost her sister Janet in the war against the Western French army led by Pepe La Pew.  Way too many names of people and places right off the bat.
  • Info dumping . You don’t want the reader to know every little thing about your MC right up front.  I know that you love your MC, you want everyone to love your MC.  Unlike you, however, it’s a relationship between that person and the reader and a relationship has to grow.  Start simple, and build as the story progresses.
  • Too many characters introduced right off the bat. This is common, and you should try to space it out a little.  If you have a couple of main characters, it’s perfectly fine to introduce them in the first chapter or so of your book.  If you throw in every side character in-between, however, the reader could get confused about who they are supposed to follow.

Do you find yourself making any of the above mistakes?  It’s perfectly fine to make them during your first draft.  Remember, the first draft of everything is ALWAYS crap.  Nobody is perfect.  For writers, the thing to remember is that you need to get the story out.  Finish it. Tell it the way you want it to be told.  If you want excessive run on sentences to carry your tale, then by all means, make it happen.  When it’s done, and you look back through your creation, that’s the time to make any corrections you may decide to do.  Change your mind about those run on sentences?  Change it.  Is your first chapter laden from excessive info dumping?  Break the information up.  That’s why they’re called drafts.  Once your book is written, you still have quite a bit of work to do.  It’s just the name of the game.

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