Have you ever wondered how to successfully write your very first book? Maybe you have already written your first book, and now you are looking for ways to improve as you write more books. Maybe you are just always on the lookout for good tips that can improve your technique in even the smallest of ways. Well, look no further! Here are some EXCELLENT tips on things NOT to do, in order to make your writing as successful as possible. And come back next week when we will discuss things you SHOULD do.
Things you should avoid in order to write a successful book:
- Jumping on the trendy train: Trying to study what’s on the bestseller lists and what’s popular is a great example of what NOT to do. Trends change quickly. By the time you decide which trend you want to jump on and finish writing an entire book, there’s an extremely good chance that the trend will already have passed.
- Following all the shortcuts: There are a lot of ways to publish your book faster than lightning. It doesn’t mean it will be successful. Taking too many shortcuts, such as quickly designing a cover you feel is good enough, skipping important steps such as editing or proofreading, and releasing an e-book straight off your first or second draft, could be a deadly combination. Too many shortcuts can leave you with a book that’s not as successful as it could be, and a book that you are okay with rather than one you feel is some of your best work. And who wouldn’t want to always put their best effort and best work out there?
- Give up when things get tough: While it may be tempting to throw in the towel when your frustration hits its peak, it’s not going to lead to a successful book. Rather than drive yourself crazy when you are at your wits end, or give up altogether, check out our blog, How to overcome the dreaded monster known as: writer’s block, for some helpful tips to get you through those tough spots.
- Being overly descriptive: Whether it’s character description, details of the world your book takes place in, or adjectives and adverbs throughout the story, putting in too much detail can hurt your book. When you tell people about your life, it’s not filled with tons of inconsequential details, and your book shouldn’t be either. There is no reason to say “Charlotte’s long, dark, flowing hair and staggering, ice blue eyes made her look even more fierce as she slowly, but determinedly, marched into the face of absolute and frightening uncertainty.” Sure, the example is a bit much, but that’s the point. A character probably doesn’t need to be overly described since most readers will imagine the character for themselves anyway. The same goes for anything else you might be describing in your book. Give the reader as much as necessary, and their imaginations will fill in the rest. That’s half the fun! Plus, using too much detail and too many descriptive words for everything can lead to an unnecessarily lengthy story.
- Inconsistent information: This one is pretty straight forward. Make sure your tone, writing style, character motivations, and point of view remain consistent throughout your story. Don’t switch from first person to third person or vise-versa, and make sure you don’t accidentally switch things up from the beginning of your story to the end. Inconsistencies can ruin an otherwise great book. This is yet another reason NOT to take too many shortcuts, as I mentioned above. Editors and beta readers are there to catch these types of inconsistencies for you if you let them.
- Unnatural dialogue: Make sure your characters sound the way people sound in real life when they are talking. If it sounds too factual, like they are reading out of a text book, or too robotic, too boring, too cliché, etc., then it probably is.
- Being overly generic: Using adjectives and adverbs, in moderation of course, is excellent. It helps give the readers a clear idea of what’s going on. However, you do not always want to use the most generic term when describing something. Most descriptive words have a number of synonyms, and each one of them gives you a different visualization of what’s happening. For example, you picture different things when someone is described as crying versus sobbing, smiling versus grinning, and upset versus furious. You also visualize differently when the description reads dusty versus filthy, pretty versus gorgeous, or loud versus deafening. It’s definitely a good idea to mix it up in order to paint a more vivid picture in your readers’ minds.
- Boatloads of backstory: If there is a lot of backstory that you need to get across to your readers, it’s best not to do it all at once. Instead of opening a giant trunk full of baggage from your characters and dumping it on your readers all at one time, try to weave it in throughout the story.
- Being boring: Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? There are bound to be similar characters and similar plots out there in the ever expanding world of books. The key is to make sure your characters and your plot have something that stand out, something that gives some depth, and something that makes the readers want to route for your characters and find out what happens next.
- Wait until inspiration strikes: Now this is a GREAT way to get other things done, like laundry, errands, video games, solitaire and so much more, without feeling guilty. I have to do SOMETHING with my time since I haven’t felt inspired yet. Right? Wrong. Waiting around is never a good idea, and it’s another one of those writer’s block issues that I tackled in an earlier blog post. Waiting and hoping for some amazing spell of inspiration to hit is not likely to get your book started, let alone finished.
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