From one book to the next

So I’m currently writing book two, and I’ve noticed a few improvements from my first offering, or rather, mistakes that hands up, I confess I did in book one. As I keep saying, I’m learning every day. I hope to get better with each novel.
That’s the plan anyway!

So here are my newbie mistakes. Some might help other new writers avoid them!

  1. Overuse of “said”. I used it too often, for little purpose. Unless it wasn’t clear who was talking, that little word is not necessary.
  2. Repetition of the same word at the beginning of two or more sentences in a row. As in “She did that. She changed her mind. She did it again.” I try to vary how I start my sentences now.
  3. Overuse of “and”. I did notice it as I wrote Forever hers, but I found it hard to remove. Now I simply make my sentences shorter, and replace “and” by a full stop, unless it makes the paragraph too choppy.
  4. Not enough descriptions. I put in more effort in trying to put a mental picture for readers with other things than people. I admit I’m finding it hard, as the verbs that fit a description of a building for example, aren’t exactly every day words.
  5. Too much re-reading. Trust me, after reading my first novel a good 100 times (I’m not kidding), I knew it by heart, and even after leaving it for a long while, I STILL remembered nearly every sentence. The problem? It makes it harder to find the weaknesses in the manuscript, because by then, a sense of boredom has crept in.

Areas I still struggle with:

  1. The overuse of “to be”. She was, he was, it was. I’m trying, darn it!!!
  2. Too short paragraphs. I have a fondness for short sentences. Sometimes very short. Staccato style. (See what I did there?)
    They might put some readers off, but I hope not too many, because this is my natural writing style.
  3. The looks are my enemies. I still tend to fall back a lot on visual reactions for my characters. All these verbs, the “scan”, “peer”, “look”, “seem”, etc…as well as their eyes and their gazes reflecting God knows what emotion…I love them too much for my own good. I need a firm restraint.
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