6 Novel Writing Mistakes To Avoid

Jackie Pearce
April 08, 2023 | 6 mins

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When it comes to writing novels, there are some obvious mistakes that writers make.

Whether you choose to self-publish or publish your book traditionally, you will want to make sure you avoid these mistakes so your book can be a success.

We will be covering the most common novel writing mistakes to avoid, and when applicable, showing you alternatives to these mistakes.

Whether you are in the beginning of your book writing journey or are in the final editing stages, you will will want to go through all of these to make sure to fix these mistakes before your book is published.

Of course, keep in mind, the biggest mistake is never writing the book in the first place, but that is pretty much a given.

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Why You Need To Fix Your Book

A lot of authors these days are self-published, which is amazing for leveling the playing field in the publishing industry.

However, this can also mean you have less eyes on your book before it becomes published and goes out into the world.

You might not get as much feedback on your book as you would if you went the traditional publishing route and had editors to be able to fix some issues.

That also means you are the only one taking your work seriously and a lot of it will fall on your plate to make sure your novel is in great shape and ready to be published.

This is why a lot of people also hire editors or people to help them along the journey. It is not always necessary, though, and if you know what to keep an eye out for (besides obvious spelling and grammar mistakes), you can make your novel great.

Novel Writing Mistakes To Avoid

Lets go over some of the most common mistakes new authors make when it comes to writing, formatting, and publishing their books.

That way, you can know the major pitfalls to avoid.

#1 – Playing it safe with your story

Maybe you are too scared to kill off a character because you are worried people will be upset while they read it. Maybe you do not want an explosive fight to happen between characters. Maybe the bad guy does not get any karma sent his way.

There is an argument for too much insanity in some stories, but the alternative is a problem, too, when authors play it too safe.

This does not mean you always have to keep in the parts where you push it too far, but you should try it out and read it to see how it changes the tone of the plot and what it does to the characters.

People love a drama and no one wants to read a story where nothing exciting happens.

While we all love a happy ending, not every story should have a happy ending. Look at how many famous books are out there and how many tragedies had to happen in each of them in order to tell an incredible story.

Would The Great Gatsby have the same impact without Gatsby dying in the end? Imagine if he lived and even if Daisy stayed with her husband, how that would have such a different feel to the end.

It needed to have the ending it did to be the story it became.

#2 – Not following the basics of story structure

On the flip side of playing it too safe, some authors certainly try to stretch outside of the rules of book writing and come up with something so unique that it falls apart.

For example, most of us know the three act structure and how important it is for storytelling and any novel.

Some authors think they can escape the basic rules of storytelling or do things like switching the point of view in such a way that makes no sense. Or, they didn’t learn how to outline a book, so the story is all over the place.

There are some basic rules you should stick to when it comes to writing your book, especially if you do not want to confuse your readers.

#3 – Diving into the story too soon

Now, this does not sound like a problem. People love diving into the plot, right? Not necessarily when it comes to books, depending on the story.

People need to figure out the overall writing tone of the author, meet some the characters, and get a feel for the world they are inside of before you throw them right into drama.

Of course, for some books, diving right into the plot can work. For lots of books, however, the warm up period is essential.

If you are writing a mystery book, you often want to give people something to dive into right away and hook them. For most other genres, take your time.

#4 – Not editing enough

Are there some chapters in your book that are simply filler? Do you have some paragraphs that go on and on for no reason?

Are there some details you could have left out? Are some characters unnecessary?

All of these are hard questions, but attacking your book with this kind of focus, ruthlessness, and attention can help make it better than it originally was. In fact, one of the biggest steps of learning how to write a novel is proper editing.

If you need the extra help, you should consider hiring an editor or finding people who can read your book and give you good feedback.

#5 – Not finding a good process for your writing and editing

Depending on how long you have been writing, a lot of authors do not have their process or routines down quite yet.

While what matters is that your book gets done and published, how you get there can be a wide variety of ways to get there.

However, without a solid routine, it can take you so much longer to finally put your book together than other people.

Which for some people might not be a big deal, but for most of you, you probably want to get your book published and out into the world sooner than later.

You should test out writing at different times of the day, with different novel writing software, in different locations, and so on. It will help you get into a good routine and then repeat it when it is time to edit your book as well.

#6 – Characters without depth

It is important for you to create characters that are interesting enough for readers to get involved in.

Boring, bland characters do not inspire readers to pick up a book and keep reading, much less recommend the book to their friends.

This does not mean you need to have extremely likeable characters where they make perfect decisions.

They can be flawed, problematic, and annoying, but you still need to give them some depth for your readers to be interested in.

Ready To Write Your Book?

If you want to write a book, you do not want to miss out on the fiction writer’s handbook, which will give you the framework to get your book done and outlined properly.

Get yours below:

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