How to Avoid Basic Mistakes when Writing

This article is more focused on writing novels or short stories. Here are some tips and steps to help you.


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    Know your characters! If you don't know your main characters inside out, and if you don't keep them consistent, it makes for pretty awful reading.
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    Know your story! You need to know what the basis of your story is - is it a romance? Is it an escape story? An adventure? Exploration? A mystery solved? If you don't know where you're aiming to take your story, it can seem very flimsy when you come to read it.
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    Don't fill pages! Don't waffle on or make scenes last longer than they need to. You'll just irritate your readers and you'll end up losing your audience. If you have a short story, don't try to pad it out with lots of tit-for-tat conversation.
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    Don't write outside your ability! Don't try to write an historical novel if you don't know any history. Don't try to write science fiction if you aren't relatively adept with computers, and don't have the background. Some safe themes include modern-day life, fantasy and children's stories.
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    Know what style you're using! Don't change the narrator's voice mid-story unless it's part of the bigger picture. If you make a narrator start on an impersonal basis and become more engaging to the reader, it may put them off, as they don't know if the story's meant to be serious or light-hearted.
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    Don't try to write in scenes! If you've got a really cool scene which you want to incorporate, don't bend the story to make it fit in. If it doesn't contribute anything to the story it's probably best just to keep it among your notes.
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    Don't drown in your notes! Some people make copious amounts of notes, but if you make too many, you'll never get round to writing the story, and you'll never be sure if you've mentioned everything you wanted to mention. Also, you could end up not using lots of the notes if your story finds its own focus which you didn't expect.


  • Know your characters' history! If you know what happened to them before the story, you can work in some pretty neat scenes, like if they've been bullied, they can get over it.
  • Try out a Creative Writing Course. There are some good providers out there, but many courses are useless. However, a course can help you gather the technique and ideas to write a really good novel.
  • Make your characters unique! If you make them seem like cheap remakes from all the films and books you've seen, it's likely people will know what you're doing, and it's really uncreative!
  • Make enough notes to know where you're going. Most unplanned stories fail miserably, and it's remarkable when people do write stories without any plan whatsoever!
  • Try reading some of the related wikiHow writing topics for clues as to what it's a good idea to do.


  • Don't get into the idea that there's only one good way to write. Every writer has their own technique for writing. Just find one that works for you.
  • Don't include scenes which could be offensive or irritating to your target audience - i.e. don't include lots of blood-soaked violence in a novel targeted at romantic novel readers.

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Categories: Better Writing | Ideas and Inspiration