Mistakes That Spoil Your Book’s Magic

Don’t let the following mistakes spoil your book’s magic.

1. Lead characters who are so much alike your readers can’t tell one from the other. Give your leads distinctive voices, so that readers can tell who’s speaking, even when you don’t use tags.

2. POVs shifts within the same chapter. Sometimes within the same paragraph. Make it clear to readers who is speaking/thinking, etc.
3. A story that is based largely on coincidence. The hero just happens to rescue the daughter of his prospective boss from drowning in a public pool the day before hero goes to the interview. The boss just happens to have a little cottage behind his house that the hero can rent, providing him easy access to his love interest.

4. A story problem that is solved with little fuss or muss. The villain dies in a car accident on the way to the hero’s house. The hero suddenly gets balls and stands up to the bully he’s been hiding from the whole of the book—and without the least difficulty or consequence.

5. An unwillingness to show full frontal evil, prejudice, etc. A fear of being called onto the carpet by the PC police may tempt you to avoid putting bad words in the mouths of your baddies. Or, worse, cigarettes. Unless you’re writing for a grade school audience, G-ing your book is robbing it of its ability to confront the very wrongs you are presumably attempting to expose.

6. A badly timed moment of intimacy. Some writers feel the need to insert frequent (often gratuitous) sex scenes into a story and often at places where these scenes have the least capacity to titillate. Think of the scene in the movie, Gremlins (1984) when the lead and his girlfriend try to make out in a Montgomery Ward store while a maddened Stripe is lurking somewhere in the shadows. Who would think of getting busy at a time like that? Worse yet—a striptease sort of intimacy, where the leads progress through a variety of heated petting sessions before going ALL THE WAY. I will spare you the details of that scenario. Suffice it to say, unless you are writing pornography, you shouldn’t toy with your readers like that.

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