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Mistakes of a New Author

November 16, 2012

Years ago when I got my first job as a technician, I remember eagerly fixing all the computers that came in for repairs until there was none left.

I got all my work finished so early that I had nothing to do, and it was still morning. So I just sat listening to the radio, waiting for more work to come.

Sometime later the boss came looking for one of her employees. When I said he already left on a job, she asked me what I was working on.

Being new and naive to the whole “you work for me” thing, I told her that I had finished all my work and I was just listening to the radio.

I can’t begin to describe the disbelief that seeped onto her face.

The whole concept of an employee telling an employer there was nothing to do was so foreign to her that she stuttered the next command, which of course basically meant get to work.

Everybody makes the “new guy” mistakes when embarking on something new in life, whether it is telling the employer at work you have nothing to do, telling the teacher at school the real reason why your homework was not done, telling a big lie in marriage (because the little ones are ok, right…), or picking up the soap in prison.

And it’s no different when writing.

I looked at an interesting tutorial on Writer’s Digest that tackled this very concept.

One trap that new authors always seem to fall for was called vehicles, where a character would either gaze into a mirror, or sit in a vehicle gazing at all the various shrubs passing by, and just think about recent events and life in general and so forth.

Now being the awesome new author that I am, I was proud to note that I didn’t do that.

But then a couple of days later while working on my novel, I started writing about a character on a horse driven cart, gazing at the shrubs and thinking about his past.

My fingers instantly stopped. I couldn’t believe it, I almost fell for it, I almost fell for the same trap that I was so proud about avoiding.

Bottom line, don’t do that, period.

It’s just not interesting. Sure, it’s good to express the thoughts of a character, but only on a need to know basis.

If you’re going to bring up some memories or regrets, it better be related to the current situation and during the scene that made it relevant. Otherwise, readers may not get to the good part.

So what do you think about the mistakes of the new author? Let me know in the comments. And if you haven’t already, don’t forget to read Dirk the Juggernaut , this month’s trailer of my latest book, King Larsen.

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From → Writing Tips

  1. I often overlook this myself. Too many times I’ve found my characters sitting around and contemplating, and it’s sooooooo boring. I try to pretend that it’s relevant, but it isn’t. I’ll have to check out the video you linked to above. Awesome post!

  2. narina permalink

    You know from knowing you in person and reading your blogs….your writing is very different from your personality. Its as though you assume two personas….no offense but i prefer blog jevon better(funnier and lighter…not so grumpy as in real life) lol im kidding

    • Hi Narina. Believe it or not, but you’re not the first person to tell me this. It would be interesting if someone would give me a description of myself for a novel some day.

  3. Hi Jevon. Thanks for the reminder. Sounds like we have the same work ethic. In my retail jobs, my boss would give me tasks until there was absolutely nothing left for me to do. I didn’t like being bored. So, I always had my writing journal-just in case.

    Anyway, as a new author, it’s difficult to remember all the rules of good writing. This morning, I read and re-read my chapter to check that my character’s recollections were pertinent to moving the story along. One caveat I keep in mind during revision…if it’s a bunch of rambling for no reason…the reader’s going to bail!

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