10 Writing Mistakes That Give Readers Heartburn

image by Brett_Hondow
image by Brett_Hondow

These mistakes could irritate and lose your readers for your current book and all your future books.

  1. Insufficient grounding. The reader struggles to establish the who, where, and when from the beginning of a book or scene.
  • The age of the character’s son isn’t revealed. The reader thinks he’s three years old, but then the child’s vocabulary is advanced for three.
  • Information is withheld at the beginning as a device to add fun. Confusion isn’t fun.
  • Where the heroine lives is missing. The reader wonders whether the heroine’s move to Florida is as burdensome as she laments.
  1. Inconsistencies.
  • The author tells the reader a character lacks accounting knowledge. Later, the character gabs knowledgeably about accounts receivable.
  • The author tells the reader that a character is cruel, but the character’s actions and dialogue show the character is a caring person.
  1. image by Meditations
    image by Meditations
    Pulling solutions from the sky. The reader anticipates a clever solution to a character’s predicament.
  • The heroine loses everything. Her child needs surgery desperately. An acquaintance dies and leaves her $100,000 because he’s always admired her spunk.
  • Plot setups are missing from the book’s first half, so later, the author has the character talk about behind-the-scene events to make the weak plot work.
  1. Poor transitions. After time breaks or switching to another character’s point of view (POV), the reader lacks sufficient information to shift gears.
  • Whose POV is she in?
  • A new place isn’t mentioned, but the setting seems different.
  • The time appears earlier than when leaving the last character’s POV. Is the story going backward?
  1. Cliches. The story reeks of tired phrases:
  • She was never at a loss for words, and she had ants in her pants.
  • As luck would have it, her dog was the ace in the hole.
  • Around Mark, she was all thumbs, which put her back at square one.

 

image by kaboompics
image by kaboompics

6.  Excessive details. The reader skims, looking for substance and the plot.

  • Five paragraphs written about setting the table.
  • Obvious motives explained, or an action is reiterated in another way; information repeated.
  • Topics belabored in dialogue or internal thoughts.
  1. Awkward sections. The reader reads a sentence or paragraph three times, then gives up.
  • Vague words used (it and that, and she referring to one of three possible women).
  • Words or phrases are put together so the sentence makes no sense.
  1. Misusing secondary characters.
  • The long description of a character makes the reader think the character is important to the plot. The character never reappears.
  • A secondary character serves no purpose in developing the hero or the plot and distracts the reader from the hero’s story.
  1. image by d97jro
    image by d97jro
    Suspension of belief. Disbelief wrenches the reader from the story.
  • The character’s excessive or dramatic emotions (or lack of emotions) don’t match the seriousness of events.
  • The character suddenly has knowledge or a super power that was never hinted at previously.
  1.  Unresolved Subplots.
  • The reader anticipates learning who the baby’s father is, but the father’s identity isn’t revealed.

Don’t lose readers because of these 10 writing mistakes. Click to tweet.

What makes you put a book down permanently?