The six deadly mistakes of beginner writers


1 Think plot before character.

Beginner writers often think they must have a plot before anything else. They are wrong. Plot is character, character is plot. Plot is what happens to a character, therefore, you must start with the character.

2 Writing about undefined, underdeveloped characters.

The character is the drug, you are the dealer. Profile and develop the core of your character before start plotting around him. Fill in the profile to the deepest knowledge about a person one can have before you finish developing your plot. (Read more about creating characters.)

3 Write without knowing the ending.

You can’t effectively get anywhere without knowing where you’re meant to go. Figure out a rough ending so you can plan your route options accordingly. (Read more about endings.)

4 Writing blind.

The story comes alive with telling sensory details. The reader lives through the protagonist and should experience as much of the scene as possible. Before you start writing, take a few minutes to sit with your eyes closed. Imagine the scene happening all around you. Make note of all the sensory details. How does it feel? How does it smell? What do the characters do? Now write it down. (Read more about immersive writing.)

5 Focussing on outcomes instead of struggles.

The story is about how the lead character overcomes his problems. Once the problem has been resolved, all tension is gone and so is your reader. The reader wants to see exactly how the protagonist tackles the problem. Put your focus where it belongs. (Read more about conflicts.)

6 Lacking systematic editing and revision.

Keep in the flow by backtracking as you write your story. Once it’s been a few days, or even a few weeks since you wrote a scene, you can look back on it with fresh eyes without losing your writing momentum. Revise and rewrite as you develop your story. This is the most effective way to get to a decent final draft.

Haven (1999) Wright Right; Creative Writing Using Storytelling Techniques