5 lazy habits my editor refused to accept in my writing
Before I sent the first draft of my book to my editor, I read and re-read the entire manuscript 5 times.
By this time I thought I had a really good book.
Sure, I figured there would be some word-strengthening suggestions, possible holes in the story that needed to be addressed, and a few spots I might need to include a little more detail, but overall, I thought I had a complete book.
I was waiting for a text message that read something like; “WOW, I am truly impressed! This is an instant classic young man!”
Instead, I got “The bones of your story are great, but we have work to do.”
I read through her 6 pages of side notes and was a bit offended.
She called me out on everything.
I felt like emailing her and saying, “Why don’t you just write the damn thing yourself!?”
But then I thought again.
My goal for this book was to have a great story infused with 11 principles I believe will inspire people to live differently. I was not writing it just so I could tell people I am an author.
I got to work on the next draft, bitching the whole way, but continuing to write and re-write.
We all like to think we are great writers but there are still these same 5 mistakes we end up making in our work.
5 lazy habits my editor refused to accept in my writing.
- Telling not showing.
“Show Dont Tell.” I saw this marked everywhere. She would note, “Don’t tell the reader what the character is feeling, show it. What does their face or body do when they are angry, sad, excited, or terrified? How do we know they are feeling it?”
This sounds basic but when you think you did a pretty good job of doing so already, it is tough to stop and completely rethink your work. There is always room for improvements.
2. Cliches (You’re thinking, “Obviously!”)
This is where I had to put my ego aside. It’s not fun to write something and have a big red “Cliche” written over it. Especially when you put great effort into avoiding them!
Simple example: “His heart sank…”
Writing that is packed full of cliches will bore the reader and make them feel like they know exactly what you are trying to say. The human mind is ALWAYS searching for novelty.
Force them to picture a common emotion or expression in a new way and you’ll keep them reading. Find new and original ways to describe necessary scenarios or statements.
3. Commonly used words.
I wrote the word “disappeared” or “disappearing” WAY to often. Again, find a variation of words to describe common actions. Use the online thesaurus.
“as the sun disappeared over the horizon...”
“as the sun vanished over the horizon...”
4. Being vague (or lazy).
Don’t be vague with your writing. No matter how hard you think you’ve worked, there is always something you got a little lazy on, especially when it’s 1:35 am and you’ve been writing for hours.
When there is opportunity for detail, use it!
“He entered the crowded streets of the market to see merchants peddling food, garments, and jewelry…”
“What kind of food? What kind of garments? How do they differ in this market compared to the one he visited back home?”
I was being lazy, and my editor was not accepting it.
5. Characters sounding the same.
It’s tough to tell a story and simultaneously live out 7 different characters without having them all sound the same.
They can’t all be “Thinkers,” they can’t all be soft-spoken, they can’t all be rough, and they can’t all be happy.
I like to stop and imagine each of them reacting to the death of a loved one. Picture each reaction, let them develop a personality of their own in your mind! How does each one take to the news?
These 5 common habits can be pointed to one thing, lazy writing. When we’ve poured so much of ourselves into a story over a long period of time, we tend to get a bit lazy and try to get to the finish line.
Eliminate these and you will improve your writing.
Thank you for reading! I am nearing the release of my BOOK, based on living the extraordinary life, (HERE) :)