Friday, June 28, 2013

Ten Story Gaffes to Avoid

by Jodie Renner, editor, author, speaker
Here's an article of mine that appeared on The Bookshelf Muse blog this week and has received a lot of comments over there.

10 Things You Don't Want In Your Novel
Crafting a story is a bit like juggling--so many elements must come into play at the right moment to put on an amazing show. There's the strong, compelling hero, damaged in some way that the reader identifies with, up against impossible odds. There's a vivid setting brimming with symbols and foreshadowing. And we can't forget witty dialogue, great pacing, conflict, tension, sensory description and a one-of-a-kind voice.  So while we're keeping all these things in the front of our brain as we write, what are the biggest mistakes we want to avoid? Editor Jodie Renner is here to answer that question!  


Today’s fiction readers are more discerning and busier than ever. They want to be swept away by a captivating story with a charismatic main character. They don’t want to be talked at. Don’t wrench them out of the fictive dream by addressing them as the author to explain things or otherwise taking them out of the character’s immediate world.

Avoid these storytelling gaffes in your novel or short story: 

1. Too much description 

 Avoid writing paragraphs of description of the scenery, weather, and other surroundings. Write only the most compelling details, and from the main character’s point of view – how is the weather affecting her? Are details in his physical environment hindering his goals? And don’t get into too much detailed information on exactly what each character looks like and everything they’re wearing, especially for minor characters. Paint in large brushstrokes, mentioning only the most salient details, those that contribute to characterization.

2. An unlikeable protagonist 

Make sure your main character is someone readers will want to bond with, root for, and follow for the whole story. Don’t make him or her cold, arrogant, difficult, demanding, unfeeling, insensitive, dismissive, timid, whiny, or wimpy. Go for sympathetic and likeable, but vulnerable, with inner conflict and some baggage.

 3. A cardboard lead 

Make sure your hero or heroine is multidimensional, with lots of personality and attitude, and plenty of drive and charisma. They need strengths but also inner conflict and secrets. Nobody wants to follow a bland, wishy-washy, overly ordinary lead character.

4. La-la land – Characters getting along too well 
For the rest of this blog post, CLICK HERE.

Jodie Renner has published two books to date in her series, An Editor’s Guide to Writing Compelling Fiction: Writing a Killer Thriller and Fire up Your Fiction (Style That Sizzles & Pacing for Power), which has won two book awards so far. Look for her third book, Immerse the Readers in Your Story World, out soon. For more info, please visit Jodie’s author website or editor website, her blogs, Resources for Writers and The Kill Zone, or find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. And sign up for her newsletter.

1 comment: