Books for writers – advice, tips and tricks

If you read, you learn something new every day.

Currently I am reading How NOT to Write a Novel: 200 Mistakes to avoid at All Costs if You Ever Want to Get Published by Sandra Newman and Howard Mittelmark. Today I finished Part 1 where they describe plot related common mistakes new writers often do. Some of the points they bring up I knew already. Some issues were new to me – or at least I never thought about them in the way they are described and explained. Of course it all makes perfect sense as soon as you read it in the book.

The best points for me – either as new or as a good reminder of something I already knew – were

  • everything I include is my own conscious choice so I better make it count. If I do mention something, it should have some meaning to the story. Otherwise the reader will be disappointed. This includes characters, items, obstacles or other issues I mention
  • if characters got some special traits or abilities which will be important in the plot I can’t wait to the point those become relevant and just dump it on the reader. I will need to weave it in beforehand so it does not come as a “oh – I just save the day with my special skill I never mentioned before now”- moment.
  • I already knew never to repeat information I already gave to the reader. What was new was that I should avoid “scenes with similar settings for a specific issue” too. No déjà vu, please.
  • Don’t dispose of evil adversaries to easily. If they bother my protagonist, they can’t disappear conveniently.
  • Don’t cheat at the end. There are no miracle solutions coming pulled out of thin air. If the lead does not solve the issues in a satisfying way, then the ending is rubbish.

And now – Part two of the book!

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