Monday, February 3, 2014

#Author C.D. Verhoff's Thoughts on Common Newbie Mistake @CDVerhoff #WriteTip #AmWriting

Common Newbie Mistakes & How to Avoid Them 
  1. Starting with a prologue.  General rule of thumb, ask yourself if the story makes sense without the prologue. If it does, get rid of it.. When your book contains a prologue, in essence, you’re starting the story twice. It’s difficult enough to hook the reader once, so don’t risk having to do it twice.
  2. Opening with a dream scene. This is equivalent to playing a trick on your readers. “Ha, ha, reader. I made you think these first five pages were really happening, but they were just a dream. Fooled ya!” Your readers will not be amused.
  3. Overusing exclamation points. I’ve seen veteran writers recommend no more than one exclamation point per 100,000 words. I don’t live by that guideline, but I try to use them sparingly.
  4. Failing to embrace the word “said”. It’s the dialogue word of choice, so apply liberally. Professional fiction writers refer to it as an invisible word. The mind overlooks it, which keeps the reader’s attention on the story, not the prose. That’s a good thing. He replied, he growled, he sighed, she retorted, she quipped and so onreserve them for rare occasions.
  5. Opening the story with the main character waking up. But it’s the most natural place in the world to begin, some will say. I won’t argue the point and neither will a million other new writers who have started their stories exactly the same way. Having the main character wake up and throw the alarm clock is also cliché. So is waking up and shuffling to the mirror to give a character’s description (see #6 below).
  6. Having the main character look in the mirror or some other reflective surface in order to give physical description. I have seen lots of beginner writers, including myself back in the day, start their novel something like this. The main character wakes up, stretches, shuffles over to the basin to splash water on his or her face. The character gazes in the mirror to contemplate his or her emerald eyes, curly disheveled raven locks, or chiseled jaw and six-pack abs. New writers think this is a clever way to sneak in description. but no. It’s usually the mark of an amateur.
  7. Waiting too long to introduce the conflict. Paragraph one of the first chapter should deliver the conflict or at least hint at it. It will be difficult to convince your reader to turn the page without it.
  8. Bad guy clichés. They are easy to pick out because they are they characters dressed in black—usually black leather. They often don dark sunglasses, have pock marked skin, scars and are in serious need of plastic surgery. For some reason, bad guys frequently smell like garlic and onions. For once, I’d like to meet a bad guy in plaid who smells like wintergreen mouthwash.
  9. Adverb addiction. Whenever you spot one, kill it. You can usually spot them by the –ly ending. If you can’t go cold turkey, try limiting yourself to one per chapter. If I haven’t convinced you to let go of this manuscript disfiguring addiction, I suggest reading Stephen King’s book, On Writing.
  10. Average Joe and Jane characters. I can hear the protests now. Are you crazy? It’s Joe’s ordinariness that makes him so gosh darn relatable. I agree to a certain point, but on some level a character must be larger than life. Part of the draw of fiction is that it draws readers into a different kind of life. They are seeking new experiences, the unusual, the dramatic, the inspiring, disturbing and memorable. Hanging with Plain Jane for three hundred pages isn’t very inspiring. Jane needs to possess extraordinary inner strength, wit, self awareness, deep inner conflict or something that makes her not so average.
  11. Inattention to micro-tension.  This is the moment-by-moment conflict that keeps a reader in a continuous state of suspense. Micro-tension is separate from the main conflict, it is not the same as plot. This kind of tension comes from the inside of the your characters, their emotions in conflict, ideas at war with one another, their inner turmoil. Bring it out in your character’s thoughts, his dialogue, and his reaction to the world around him.
  12. Going it on your own.  Four eyes are better than two. Two brains are better than one. I suggest growing a thick skin and seeking honest feedback from a critique buddy. And don’t be snobby about it. Finding an experienced writer to exchange chapters with is like finding gold and a beginner is silver. Both are valuable commodities. If you don’t know any writers who might want to exchange critique with you, a good place to find one is an online site called Critique Circle. I found a great critique buddy on Goodreads by combing through the various writing groups. Hatrack is another possible avenue.
Good luck and happy writing.
C. D. Verhoff

The last survivors of the human race are riding out nuclear winter in an underground bunker when disaster strikes. Forced to the surface centuries ahead of schedule, what they find blows their minds. Who can explain it? Two social misfits work together to unravel the mystery.
After living in a posh underground shelter his entire life, Lars Steelsun is plunged headfirst into a mind-blowing adventure on the surface of the Earth. As Lars and his displaced bunker mates are led across the grasslands by Mayor Wakeland, a man of questionable sanity who claims to talk with God, they discover a primitive world where human beings are no longer welcome. 
Even more mystifying is the emergence of new senses and abilities from within. Learning to use them has become a priority, but his biggest challenge comes from the vivacious Josie Albright. Her lust for glory is going to get them both into trouble. Sparks fly when her gung ho ways clash with his cautious personality. Can they overcome their differences to find love and a homeland for their people?
May not be suitable for younger readers. Contains mild profanity, sexual situations (infrequent), and violence.
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Genre - Epic Fantasy
Rating – R
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1 comment:

  1. Thank you for hosting me on your blog. Book two of the series, Seeker of the Four Winds, will be out later this month. If you have any questions, please contact me on FB or my blog.