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A checklist

“How vain it is to sit down to write
when you have not stood up to live.”
— Henry David Thoreau


"...the computerized writer has his mistakes neatly stored in digital memory." P.J. ORoarke

What makes the difference between a well polished professional written manuscript and one scrawled impulsively during a flashing mind stream of inspiration? Avoiding common mistakes while keeping the flow of creativity is a must. Offering a new world for readers to enter requires yourself having lived there and emerged to guide the way. Avoiding the following common mistakes will make your task at becoming their trusted guide much easier.

*BurstBr* Grammar and Punctuation

Lack of training in the use of technical issues (grammar, spelling and punctuation) differentiate many beginning writers from experienced professionals. It is not the problem it used to be. The free download or advanced features purchased and used with editing software such as that at Grammerly.com can cut light years off learning this part of the writers craft.

*Burstbr* Flow

The read is choppy, disjointed, without smooth and easy to follow transitions from point to point. Rushed pacing needs a breather (connective thread between them). What makes a good roller coaster ride is the ups and downs, twists and turns running smoothly together without too much of a bump or jar. Reading your work aloud can give a sense of flow, pause and distraction that reading silently can not.

*Burstbr* Show not Tell

Show means involving as many of the five senses to reveal what characters are going through as possible instead of telling the reader about it. Show involves the reader and bonds them to the story line while 'tell' is like having to listen to a boring lecture. Check for having an antagonist without much action.

*Burstbr* Change of Tense

Point of view which changes from past and present or future tense can be distracting, disconcerting and hard to maintain a smooth reading flow. Beginning writers would be well advised to choose one and stick with it and study its use while reading other authors to see how breaking that rule can be done well.

*Burstbr* Plot Too Simple

Writing a vignette {brief evocative description, account, or episode) does not a short story make. That requires a setting, characterization, problem or crises followed by resolution in order to meet that requirement. The stronger and more vivid the buildup and expression of the crisis in the proponent (main character's) life and struggle they have overcoming it, the more glued to a short story readers will become.

*Burstbr*Passive Voice

Passive voice produces a sentence in which the subject receives an action. In contrast, active voice produces a sentence in which the subject performs an action. Passive voice often creates unclear, less direct, wordy sentences, whereas active voice creates clearer, more concise sentences. Resource  


Concise writing is key to clear communication. Wordiness obscures your ideas and frustrates your reader. Make your points succinctly.


While these are not all the kinds of mistakes frequently turning a good idea into a badly written plot line, they are common enough to deserve attention. A quick Google search revealed lists of twenty-five or more common mistakes offered for review. A search on what editors look for in accepting or denying a manuscript is also worth taking an emerging writer's valuable time.

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