Writing has been handed down from father to son, mother to daughter or the village elder to the junior by word of mouth long before there was ever any writing of any kind, so that essential element in writing has never gone away. In fact, I would say that the prime prerequisite is: can you tell a good story?
The first thing you have to have to be a writer is to have a story or an idea or something that you want to communicate. Ask the question would someone be interested in this or would someone want to read about this? Writing is just a form of communication.
Are you a storyteller or do you have something to write about?
Here are some little tests to find out whether or not you are.
Are you the kind of person that when you go to the camp out you can tell the story by the fire and have everyone’s attention, have them hanging on your every word?
How’s your timing?
What do people say to you after you finish telling a story?
Do people laugh at your jokes?
Your listeners and then readers will tell you whether or not you can tell a good story.
Now we all want to take a look at ourselves and not be too critical and not be too harsh at the same time, be open and honest with ourselves. Share your story with a friend who will be honest with you.
Sit down and write. Then, read what you wrote so you can get your flow with words. Be interested in everything around you, be interested in what other people have to say. Take what they say and learn what they got from your writing. Did your story idea interest them, did they have any aha moments from what you wrote? Use that information to fine tune what you are writing. Begin to develop your voice and your style as a writer.
Their are 25 common mistakes that will peg you as an amateur writer:
- Number one is spelling changes If you spell a name a certain way, make sure it is always spelled that way. Also with locations and abilities. Be consistent with the capitalization, too.
- Number two is characters that are similar. Do not have multiple characters with very similar names, similar personality attributes, or that are on same side, either the good side or the bad side in your story.
- Number three is mistakes in procedures with different professions like Social Work, the Police, the Court System, or Forensic Scientists to name a few. You need to understand how those professions work if you are going to write about them.
- Number four is mistakes in descriptions of medical problems, medical care, technology, or weapons. Research to make sure you understand what you are describing.
- Number five is small talk in the dialogue that takes up a lot of space but does not mean anything, or have any relevance.
- Number six is forgetting to include sensory information like sight, sound, and smell.
- Number seven is naming the main character after yourself or a slight variation of your name. This will be very apparent when you go to query agents or publishers and it is a big red flag.
- Number eight is cliches used too frequently. You do not want to rely on cliche phrases.
- Number nine is using the same sentence construction over and over.
- Number ten is switching between past and present tense unintentionally. Make sure you know which tense you are writing in.
- Number eleven is pausing the story every time a character is introduced to provide a laundry list of physical descriptions. One or two descriptions is fine, but the big long paragraph of descriptions is not going to read smoothly.
- Number twelve is over use of alternative dialog tags. Use these very sparingly.
- Number thirteen is using more than one or two adjectives to describe a noun.
- Number fourteen is using more words than is necessary. EX: he lifted his chin slowly and then dropped it back to his chest instead of he nodded.
- Number fifteen is thesaurus writing. Replacing words constantly with bigger or fancier words to sound more impressive or sophisticated.
- Number sixteen is constantly repeating the character’s name.
- Number seventeen is repeating character’s name in dialogue. You do not normally call people by their names in dialogue very often so it can seem unnatural.
- Number eighteen is repeating the same description over and over.
- Number nineteen is switching the point of view of your character at random. The point of view of the character should switch because it advances the story. You want to switch smoothly so your reader does not get confused with your story.
- Number twenty is including mundane details for no reason. The reader does not need to watch your character brush their teeth, get out of the shower or pick their clothes. These descriptions are very rarely interesting.
- Number twenty one is describing every article of clothing every character is wearing at all times.
- Number twenty two is using an adverb plus a verb instead of just using a stronger verb. EX: saying he moved quickly instead of he jogged.
- Number twenty three is overly formal dialogue.
- Number twenty four is introducing too many characters at the same time.
- Number twenty five is writing stage direction instead of action. Nobody needs excessive descriptions.