Saturday, January 4, 2014


Hey *waves*

I'm Lisa and thanks for visiting our new blog. Isn't it pretty? We worked hard on it to make it as nice as possible for you. Take a look around. Our bios are in the post below in case you're wondering who the heck we are. We're just a small group of writers, in various levels of the publishing process, who decided to give our families a break from our endless novel chatter. (You're welcome, family). Also, we thought we'd try to help each other as well any visiting authors who find themselves in writerly trouble.

Every Thursday we'll pose a question that we'll each answer; it's our Here Comes Trouble question. Hopefully our answers will offer a tidbit of help to everyone reading. If you ever have a question of your own, post it in a comment on any of our blog posts, and we'll try to answer it. Or we'll put it out there so that hopefully smarter people than us can come along and answer it for all of our benefit. It's a win, win!

So this is my first Here Comes Trouble question:

Writers typically know the mistakes they have the tendency to make, big or small. Sometimes they already know how to fix them and sometimes they don't. What are your typical mistakes you've learned to look for in your writing? Do you have any mistakes you haven't gotten a strong grasp on how to fix yet?

My smaller mistakes like "you" instead of "your" are easy to fix upon edits, though they're still aggravating when I come across them. My bigger issue is character dynamic/relationships. I don't think I'm very clear on my characters' relationships: why they're friends or boyfriend/girlfriend, what role they play in each other's lives, etc. However, I'm working on fixing this. *Psst, any advice would be GREAT*

Caitlin: My biggest mistake is not having enough emotion. I just can't wait to get to the exciting stuff, the funny interactions; the blunt, unruly dialogue; the touching of cheeks and kissing; the grim fights! But then I forget to put in the characters REACTING to those thing. My MC might have an amazing kiss, but I forget to add that her skin felt tingly and her heart raced. I guess I feel that it is implied so I get annoyed at having to pause and put it in, but I realize that without it my characters seem flat and devoid of feelings.

Along those lines, one of my other big mistakes is having too many filter phrases. When I do add emotion/thoughts, I'm tempted to just say "I love his smile." I should probably read this post every day until it sinks in!

Another weird tick I have is not writing in contractions. My books are filled with I-ams, They-ares, do-nots, etc. etc., which would be a weakness in any voice, but especially YA and still working on that one!

Karlie: I think my biggest mistake in fiction is getting all my loose threads to tie up in one tidy plot. I always end up rewriting at least twice just to get the plot tight and connected (and that's not counting all the other revisions for other things). I know where I'm going, it's just making all roads lead to one destination that gets me stuck.

I also have problems with believable romantic relationships. If I'm not writing heavy angst, or sunshine and rainbows, my dialogue turns cheap and predictable. My "arguments" become stilted and forced, and before you know it I have two cardboard cutouts arguing about absolutely nothing.

One thing I usually don't have trouble with is typos. I'm obsessive about fixing those as I go, (some sort of complex I got stuck with, LOL). So there are almost no grammatical errors or twisted sentences in my first draft - all the problems lie in my character dynamics and plot arcs. (Now that I think about it, the typos would be a lot easier to fix.)

What are your common mistakes, writers?

Readers, what do you commonly see in published books lately that can be improved upon?


  1. My biggest issue is plot! What I've tried to improve it.... I write outlines. Do the beat sheet thing. Map out the 7 point plot. When revising, I make a spreadsheet of every scene and detail out the goal, conflict, etc. And then my CPs say things like, "The first half doesn't have much of a plot." I guess that means I see a plot where there is none. I have other minor issues, but plot is my biggest.

    On the other hand, relationships, emotion and dialogue come naturally.

    In terms of published books, I see a lot of filter words, even in amazing books that I've loved. Also, sometimes I think showing emotion could be improved. While we can all strive to improve, it's kind of comforting to know that even published authors don't always do a perfect job.

    1. Thanks for commenting, Laura. Yours is a viable problem to have. We think we've dropped in the appropriate hints at things to come and readers don't pick up on them. I guess it's time to emphasize those hints when betas say they find the plot lacking.
      I'm with you, though. I find filter words and chunks of telling instead of showing in published novels. While it's easy to act all superior and bemoan it online, maybe the more forgiving way to look at is as these published authors didn't suddenly turn into a god because they got a book deal. They're still human with human mistakes. :)

  2. Definitely! I have mixed feelings about those mistakes in best selling published books. On the one hand it's frustrating they have way more filter phrases than me and are able to write full time! But on the other hand, yeah, we're all human!!

    I also struggle with plot, but the book "Story Engineering" has helped me a ton! :)