Miscellaneous Stuff to Avoid

Some of this is repeated elsewhere in these links, but it never hurts to have a refresher. Much of this stems from my slush pile reading, seeing writers making identical mistakes.

I saw way too many of the following:

Characters waking up (usually with a hangover) / Characters having bad dreams.


It's the author subconsciously "waking up" to the story and it's so old and tired it's eating mush in a state-run retirement home. Start your book/story at a more interesting place, where something interesting is happening. Bad Dreams and Worse Wakings

A first line that doesn't "hook." (If you don't know what a hook is, you're not ready for feedback.)

Weather reports. (I don't care about the damn weather. I have plenty of my own. What is the character doing?)

Landscape vistas, town vistas, building exterior/interior descriptions, often including a weather report. (Boring. What is your character doing? What would Joss Whedon do?)

Starting a story with a character screaming and writing it out like this: "AAAAAAAUUUUUGGGGHHH!" (Seriously, I have seen it. Unless it's slapstick comedy, don't be one of them.)

Back story countersinking "If it hadn't happened to me I'd never have believed it" kind of starts. (Don't. Just....don't.)

Substituting action or combat (ex: character is being chased/is in a fight) for a hook. (It's a book, not a video game or movie.)

Writing out your latest role-playing game adventure/video game as a novel.


Police report descriptions of characters: "He was 5' 11" weighed 190 pounds, had dark hair and pale skin, wearing a black suit."

Characters looking into mirrors to describe themselves.

Characters, especially female, tucking a strand of (insert color here) hair behind one ear to convey hair color to the reader.

Passive verbs. That usually looks like "had been (verb)__ing". If you don't know what passive voice/verbs are LOOK THEM UP. Weed them out of your work.

Using "like" instead of "as though." (Look up the correct use for both.)

Weed out those adverbs.

Characters yawning or saying they're sleepy. AVOID-AVOID-AVOID, WILL ROBINSON!! Even the mention of the word "yawn" can inspire a reader to yawn, put down your book and never open it again. You want readers to be up all night and cursing your name in the morning because it did not make them sleepy.