Sunday, February 18, 2018

Common Mistakes That Will Annoy Your Readers


When it comes to writing books, we are all going to make mistakes. Even the most experienced and successful authors do. 
Even after redrafting and editing it is almost impossible to write an utterly flawless book, and that’s OK because your readers don’t need your book to be perfect, they just want to enjoy your story.
However, there are some easily made mistakes that your readers might be less forgiving of, and it is important to highlight and rectify these before you go on to publish your novel. Not doing so could lead to them to feel frustrated, annoyed and eventually put them off reading your book altogether!
So what are some common mistakes that might annoy your readers? Let’s take a look.
Using character names that are too complicated or similar to one another.
Calling your characters something that is impossible to pronounce is a definite no-no. Readers don’t want to struggle over what you have called your character. Having to re-read the character name each time it crops up will jerk them out of the story and quickly become irritating. Having characters whose names are too similar (unless for a specific purpose) could also confuse and muddle your reader and they might mix up one for the other.
Being overly descriptive
Writing beautiful, carefully thought out descriptions is one thing, but if you only focus on this and not on the pacing, the plot, the character development and so on, your story will seem dull and slow, no matter how good you are at setting the scene. Make sure your readers care about the people in your story and what’s happening to them. Without this you are on a path to nowhere.
Be too clever
Clever, original writing can be brilliant. But if you focus on this too much it is likely that other parts of your book will suffer. While experimenting is good, if you try to be too unusual, this will distract from your story and will likely confuse your reader. Jumping back and forth between different timelines, too many different character perspectives, using too much punctuation and so on can all have a negative effect. 
Taking too long to get stuck in
You might think it is really important to painstakingly introduce every character in your novel, but if you don’t get them to act soon, your story will feel very stagnant. Readers want action, they want a decent pace, they want to know what happens. Don’t drag your story out for as long as possible, rather tell it in the most exciting and exhilarating way you can.
Not trusting your reader
Over explanation, showing not telling, or the author's voice coming through the text will all destroy your story. Trust that your reader will ‘get’ what you are trying to say, or the picture you are trying to convey. They don’t need everything spelt out for them, and doing so will really get on their nerves!
These common mistakes are ones most writers are guilty of at some point. However, as long as you capture these errors and figure out how to rectify them before you present your book to your readers then you have nothing to worry about! So next time you are editing your book keep a look out for these and when you spot them tackle them right away!

Do you see a lot of this in what you have read or written yourself? I'm still taking a break from my memoir, but I have looked it over for passages that seem repetitive. This was one of the things I looked for when I first began revising/rewriting it after the initial draft that I had begun two years ago this month. But deleting some of these things just made it shorter and since then I have been adding more to make it longer, what seems like the typical length for a memoir. Some of the details I have added over the time I have been working the story may, in some people's eyes, seem frivolous, but I have seen other people's memoirs deliver such details that might seem just as frivolous to some. Such as fantasizing about going on a game show, watching the summer reruns of Friends, going to see movies I had only some interest in in the summer of 2001 while I was working for a boss I hated. I would do things like those to get my mind off the awful days at work I was having then. In the beginning, I had not said exactly what I had done on my days off from work, just that the two days off always seemed to pass too quickly and that I had little time for myself before it was back to the awful job. Does any of this seem annoying to you? (Though I am paraphrasing). 

And I noticed in my diary novel I repeated the phrase "trigger(ed) (ing) my anxiety" more than once. My mom had suggested rewriting that phrase in subsequent lines, though I have yet to even try doing so. Would this seem annoying to you? (Though I know you don't know that context in which it is being used). 

As for using similar character names, this seems hard to avoid when writing something from real life. Using a name more than once could cause confusion, but seems weird when you have known more than one person in your life with the same name. I mean, how many Jennifers have you encountered over your life so far? Probably more than you can count or name. I didn't refer to any one specifically by this name or other over used names such as Karen or Lisa, rather in one part I made reference to "one of the many Jennifers, Karens, or Lisas..." and later to "another of the many Jennifers, Karens or Lisas...," implying that the girl who was speaking then had one of these names. I did this partly not to use the real names (which I worked hard to avoid doing), but also to emphasize that fact that I did (and still do) know a plethora of girls with these names. Every other girl to school seemed to have one of these names and that it was hard for me to grow up among them with a not-as-common name. 

How do you writers work around this?


Sandra Cox said...

How about activated or prompted for triggered?

Sandra Cox said...

Same here on the uncommon name. It was common in other areas but not at my school. Isn't it funny we don't want to stand out but want to be just like everyone else when we are younger.
Have a good one.

Sandra Cox said...

Just stop by to say hey and that I hope your day is productive and your evening pleasant.

Kelly Hashway said...

I often have more than one character with a name beginning with the same letter, and I’ll change that in revision so Readers don’t get confused. However, in one book there was a reason for the simulate names, so of course that stays.