First off, thanks for making Rookie Writing Mistakes Part 1 my second most popular post on this blog! Since you’ve made it clear you liked that kind of info, I followed up on that post with this one. This post is much more about the nitty gritty of writing than the last post. In Part 1, I chose big picture things. In Part 2, I focus on smaller, but just as important, mistakes.
Ready for some more tips so you don’t look like an amateur writer?
- Choosing The Right Name For Your Character
This is a matter of opinion, but I have two warnings. One, if you don’t think it through, your character will end up with a name that doesn’t cut it. Unless you’re going for humor, naming a fierce warrior Petunia probably isn’t your best bet (although I would totally read that story if it wasn’t supposed to be dramatic or serious).
Two, pick something you don’t mind typing a few hundred times. Lord Atreyu Baskatar of the Eastern Realms might sound interesting, but trust me, type that out three hundred times over a few hundred pages and you’ll hate it.
2. Using The Wrong Name For Your Characters
Alright, so maybe you ignored my previous warning and named your character Lord Atreyu Baskatar. Good for you for sticking up for what you want. The problem?
Unless you’re extra careful, in fifty pages that name will be something like Altreau Baskitar. The more complicated the name, the more likely you’ll misspell it. Save your editor and readers from finding those mistakes. It’s embarrassing, and I know because, to this day, if you look at my Amazon description for Black Forest, my main character’s surname is missing an “e” on the end (but that book has a load of issues I’m currently working on).
Another thing that can happen is you change a character’s name midway through. Either you change the name starting at that point and figure you’ll fix the previous pages when you edit (which you’ll inevitably forget or still miss a few), or you use find and replace to change the name.
I love find and replace in Microsoft word, but it has one big flaw. Say my character’s name is Rose. It’s a simple, respectable name and perfect. Then I decide to change it to Lily using find and replace. This is what will happen:
Rose handed the item over and rose from her seat.
With Find and Replace:
Lily handed the item over and Lily from her seat.
Find and Replace can’t distinguish between a proper noun and a verb so be extremely careful when using this tool.
3. Verb Tense
Ah, yes, the most classic mistake of all.
After eight years and one million words written (approximately), I still sometimes go from “is” to “was.” It’s also the most common mistake I see when new writers ask me to beta read for them.
Choose whether your book will be present or past tense from the beginning. It will save you work and time, and while you might still screw up occasionally, it’s better than changing every verb for twenty pages (I’ve done it and don’t recommend it). You don’t need to be highly-skilled in English to write, but you need a decent understanding of it.
If you want to know the truth, I used to be the worst writer and speller among my peers. However, that all changed by freshman year of high school when I spent hours pouring over information about writing and had written half a book myself.
So, don’t worry if you don’t know Lay vs. Lie yet. You’ll get there if you work at it.
If you need more tips, check out my Pinterest board, Tips For New Writers.
As always, hope this helps.