between a good writer and a mediocre writer?
Sometimes it's difficult
our fingers on exactly what makes good writing
good. And sometimes it's
to identify what makes bad writing bad. For
surely, if you avoid bad
your writing will become, well, good.
The Devil of
tempts every writer with
the Seven Deadly Sins of Writing. They seem
innocent enough--a misplaced
here, an adverb there--but soon the writer
finds himself sinking into
dreaded darkness of the Rejection Pile. Sadly,
often the writer doesn't
know he's been deceived. So let's reveal the
Seven Deadly Sins of
what they are: Death to your manuscript.
I. Poor Grammar
and Spelling. Surely, nothing
screams "amateur" as loudly
poor grammar and misspelled words. If your
grammar is poor, take a
your local community college. If your grammar
is decent, invest in a
grammar reference book and use it whenever you
are uncertain. See
Tips and Comma
Sheets for help on this one.
II. Telling, not
Showing. We must act out our scenes,
through action and
in such a way that our reader feels that he is
experiencing the drama
as it is
happening. See the Show,
Don't Tell Tip
Sheet for details.
passive verbs, adverbs, intensifiers, -ing
unnecessary words suck the very life out of
our prose. For examples of
make your prose as active as possible, see
it Active Tip
IV. Purple Prose.
adverbs and adjectives, using cliches and
euphemisms, and getting carried away with
description in inappropriate
is called "Purple Prose." It's a lot of fluff
with little substance.
Instead of using an adverb to make a weak verb
stronger or an adjective
a weak noun stronger, omit the
adverb/adjective and choose a stronger
verb/noun. Instead of reusing phrases that
you've heard before, find
of saying things. Instead of using euphemisms
(attention: romance and
love-scene writers!) for parts of the body,
use real words. Too much
just like too much dessert-it leaves us
heaving. See the Tip Sheet
another example of this disease, and check out
Emotion Tip Sheet for help in
reducing the melodrama.
trusting our words to do their job or not
reader to be smart enough to understand our
words leads us to repeating
ourselves. We change our wording, but still
present the same idea in a
different way. This redundancy kills our
it Once, Say it
VI. Point of View
Breaches. Switching our
viewpoint character without
"seeing" or "hearing" things our viewpoint
character is not
privy to, or switching from one type of point
of view to another
flow of our prose and jolts our reader.
Sometimes the reader isn't even
state what the exact problem is, just that
"something isn't right."
Always be aware of whose viewpoint you are in
and why. For more help on
subject, see Point
View and Other
VII. Lack of
Persistence. Surely, giving up
is the deadliest of all the
Writers who decide they "aren't good enough"
or "don't have
time" to write will never be published.
Writers who fail to take advice
and further their understanding of the writing
craft will never be
And writers who accept rejection as defeat
will never be published. To
favorite uncle, "You aren't defeated until you
So, don't let
the Seven Deadly Sins of
Writing kill your chances of being published.
Read. Write. Study.
one ever said it would be easy, but if you
have that passion in your
nothing will stop you from succeeding. Go for
tips, worksheets, and discussions, order your
own copy of the
Inspiration for Writers Tips and Techniques