Frequent Mistakes Writers Make
1. Beginner writers may indulge in adjective overload
Not everything you write needs to be described in intricate detail. Sometimes your reader prefers to create their own mental picture of a scene or character. In fact, sometimes omitting adjectives can make for stronger writing and leave your reader guessing.
Avoid putting adjectives before every noun
Try to avoid putting an adjective before every noun you use. For instance, don't write: Rob ran his large, calloused hands through his, stringy, shoulder-length hair and dramatically opened his big, grey eyes wide when he saw the svelte, beautiful blonde in the sleek red porsche crash into the gleaming motorbike.
Ask yourself, does the reader need to know how long Rob's hair is, or that the motorbike is gleaming, or that the blonde is beautiful? Are any of these things a given? As a general rule any more than three adjectives in a row can lead to reader overload. Often adjectives are entirely unnecessary because the object being described is already associated with that adjective, e.g. The soft, blue, fluffy pillow ... pillows are generally soft, so soft is unnecessary. Sometimes, adjectives are just propping up weak descriptions.
2. Unnecessary adverbs are a common problem for novice writers
Often, adverbs can be omitted particularly when describing speech, to make for stronger writing. Adverbs modify verbs, so they should be used when it is necessary for the reader to know something specific about how the subject is doing the action. For example, 'Sally was hanging up the washing reluctantly' is very different from 'Sally was hanging up the washing dutifully.' However, sometimes, rather than using an adverb, a better way of enhancing your writing is to use a stronger, more appropriate verb. For example, 'He ran quickly' would become 'He sprinted' and 'She spoke haltingly,' might become 'She stammered.'
In some cases adverbs are entirely tautological, e.g. 'She whispered quietly.' (Have you ever heard anyone whisper loudly?) That's not to say don't use adverbs ever, but assess your adverbs and make sure they are fulfilling a purpose.
3. Novice writers may overuse a character's name in dialogue.
When you speak to your friends or colleagues, it is likely that you very rarely address them by name. For some reason, however, first-time authors love to have their characters constantly using each others names in dialogue. For example:
"Pete, how could you that do me?"
"I'm sorry, Dan. I didn't know she was your wife."
"She's not just my wife, Pete. She's my soul mate."
"Dan, I said I was sorry. What more do you want?"
"I want you out of my life, Pete".
First-time novelists do this because they are worried if they don't identify who is speaking, the reader will forget. This is not the case. If you write interesting dialogue in a conversational style, your reader will be able to follow it with only the occasional reminder of who is speaking. Having strong characters, each with a realistic voice or unique mannerisms, will help your readers follow your dialogue.
4. Some writers make the mistake of not including any dialogue at all.
Sometimes omitting dialogue this can be a literary strategy, as it filters all of the characters and the action through a single narrator. Giving the reader the point of view of a single narrator is often a good way to show bias or to later reveal that the scenarios the author relayed to the reader may have actually played out very differently. However, it takes a talented writer to make a book work entirely in first person narration without any direct dialogue.
Replace unrealistic dialogue with authentic dialogue
Many authors, particularly those writing memoirs, fret that they can't accurately recreate dialogue or that their dialogue will appear unrealistic without peppering it with 'well' or 'um'. The best dialogue suspends some of the more formal rules of grammar, but it is also usually authentic rather than truly realistic.
When people speak, they do use slang, um and ah, and say 'well' or 'oh'. They also engage in meaningless small talk or social scripts. They finish sentences with prepositions, interrupt each other, finish other people's sentences for them and trail off, etc.
When writing dialogue it is important that you write in a conversational tone, using language that fits the character, but avoid padding your dialogue with material that is not crucial for the reader to know to understand your story. Cut your dialogue back to the bare minimum and use nuance to give your characters' words deeper meaning.
5. Leaving out citations
A mistake non-fiction authors commonly make is not including citations. Citations help readers understand the wealth of material on which a reference text is based—important for imparting credibility. You can read more about author citations at http://www.marcaria.com/internet-resources-on-citing-the-trademark-of-a-good-writer.asp
Want more writing and grammar tips, click here... Or read more about point of view, characterisation, and narrative voice.