Frequent mistakes that novice writers make...
1. Overloading the story with adjectives
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, omitting adjectives can even make for stronger writing and leave your reader guessing.
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 is overkill. 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. Sometimes, adjectives are just propping up verbs that could be stronger.
2. Unnecessary adverbs
Adverbs can usually be omitted, particularly when describing speech. Adverbs modify verbs, and they are best used only when it is necessary for the reader to know something specific about how the subject is performing an action. For example, "Sally was hanging up the washing reluctantly" is very different to "Sally was hanging up the washing dutifully." Rather than using an adverb, writing is often enhanced by the choice of a stronger, more appropriate verb. For example, not "He ran quickly," but "He sprinted." Not "She spoke haltingly," but "She stammered".
In some cases adverbs are entirely tautological, e.g. "She whispered quietly." (Have you ever heard anyone whisper loudly?) Before you submit your story, assess your adverbs to make sure they have a purpose and are not just propping up weak verbs.
3. Overusing names in dialogue
When you speak to your friends or colleagues, you probably rarely address them by name. For some reason, though, 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 tend to do this because they're worried that if they don't identify who's speaking, the reader will forget. But if you write interesting dialogue in a conversational style, and give each character each a unique tone and mannerisms,your reader will be able to follow it with only the occasional reminder of who is speaking.
4. Writing unrealistic dialogue or not adding enough dialogue
Omitting dialogue can be a literary strategy, as it filters all of the action through a single narrator. Giving the reader the point of view of a single character can be an effective way to show bias, to set up an unreliable narrator, or to later reveal that the scenarios relayed to the reader played out very differently from another character's viewpoint. However, it takes a talented writer to make a book work entirely in first person narration without any direct 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. But using interjections like these too much in your writing will annoy your reader. Cut your dialogue back to the bare minimum, and instead using the actions occurring around the dialogue to add nuance and foreshadowing, or to give your characters' words deeper meaning.
5. Leaving out citations and not getting permissions
One 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, which is important for imparting credibility. Whether you're writing non-fiction or fiction works, you also need to be me mindful of copyright restrictions. Using photographs, song lyrics, poetry or lines from other writer's works is a big no-no unless you'ce contacted the author or copyright holder to ask their permission, or unless the author or creator has been dead for at least 70 years (in Australia and the UK). You can read more about author citations at http://www.marcaria.com/internet-resources-on-citing-the-trademark-of-a-good-writer.asp and more abou copyright at the Australian Copyright Council.
Want more writing and grammar tips, click here... Or read more about point of view, characterisation, and narrative voice.