All writers want to look like experienced, sophisticated writers. We all rush to get that first draft down on paper, but then comes the time to self-edit and rewrite our manuscripts. There lies your opportunity to slow down, have another cup of coffee, and spruce up that first draft.
The following points are things you might want to avoid because they make you appear like an amateur or a weak writer:
1. Avoid the use of -ing and as constructions. They can sometimes make two
actions seem simultaneous when they are physically impossible.
Example: Rushing into the house, I put on a fresh blouse and skirt.
Should be written: I rushed into the house and put on a fresh blouse
Example: As I put the kettle on the stove, I turned to face him.
Should be written: I put the kettle on the stove and turned to face him.
If you just have to use that -ing phrase, try putting it in the middle of the sentence.
Then it is less conspicuous.
2. Avoid the use of clichés. I do not even have to explain this one. There is nothing,
in my opinion, that will make you look more like a weak or amateur writer
3. And then there is the adverb, the -ly word. This, I have to admit, is one of my
biggest downfalls. I love them, so I struggle with myself to get rid of them.
Now do not get me wrong. An occasional one can be forgiven. When you use
a weak verb and an adverb, you are using two weak words in place of one strong
Example: Angrily she shut the door behind her.
Should be written: She slammed the door behind her.
Now there can be an exception to the rule for the sake of affect.
Example: She kissed him--slowly, longingly.
4. Avoid a lot of short sentences. Try stringing some of them together with a
comma. Just do not overdo it.
Example: “Don’t worry. I’ll take care of it.”
Should be written: “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of it.”
5. Using a lot of italics and exclamation marks should be used only to convey
your character is shouting. Otherwise, the writer appears very insecure. Just
let the dialogue and description convey all the emotion needed.
6. Another stylistic device that can make a writer come across as an amateur is
flowery, poetic figures of speech or metaphors.
7. Are your sex scenes too explicit? You may want to leave a certain amount
of details left to your readers’ imagination. They do quite well with this, you
know. No heavy breathing, please.
8. Profanity has been so over used that it no longer has any shock value and
can turn your reader off. Now if it is a characteristic of your character, then
by all means use it. Otherwise, it is simply a sign of a small vocabulary.
Faye M. Tollison
Author of: To Tell the Truth
Upcoming books: The Bible Murders
Member of: Sisters in Crime
Writers on the Move