Three Common Mistakes to Avoid when Writing a Novel

Suppose you have an amazing story idea to share with the world. Or – perhaps, you have already published a book – and now you have a muse about your next book and what it would be about.

If you are a newbie writer, you will want to avoid some common mistakes that many aspiring writers make.

Nonetheless, whether you are a new writer or not – if you find yourself making any of the below-mentioned mistakes – there are some solutions that you can use to overcome them.

Read on to learn more!

Not Pre-Planning Properly

The first mistake you want to avoid when writing your first book is not outlining your story before you start writing it. It is easy to start the writing process with just the idea. Many writers tend to dive into the writing process with just an idea and a little inspiration.

The thing is that they might have kick-started their novel – but – a few chapters down the road, they are then disappointed as they find their story lacks depth and structure.

If you think about it – it all comes down to the lack of outlining. You want to avoid the mistake of poor planning or no planning at all. Often, newbie writers get carried away by their burst of inspiration, and they will frantically start writing and working on their stories without much foundation to work with.

All they have is that vivid excitement that dies out as soon as they realize their story isn’t going anywhere.

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With that said, if you want to have a clear direction for your story, then you will want to spend some serious time planning and outlining the plot. You will find a mind map quite helpful in this regard – especially when you start to outline your characters and scenes.

Those newbie writers who take the time and effort to plan out their book and look at the significant aspects of the story have a better chance of completing their project. Even if it is a collection of short stories you aim to publish, you will want to start with the outline and plan each story in detail.

In the case of short stories, you will want to better understand how to publish a short story, as the process of writing and publishing a short story is much different than writing and publishing a novel.

You get the point – as a writer, you will want to plan your manuscript carefully, as an incomplete writing project is often discouraging. Without an outline, you can lose direction and get confused about where the story is going, which then keeps you from completing the project and starting another one.

So, the day you decide to write a short story or a novel, you will want to take a week – or – a month (in the case of a book) to piece together what scenes you want to include in your plot. The outline will help you decide what is essential to the plot and the characters.

The outline will help you flesh out your ideas in great detail before you even begin writing.


No Character Development

The second mistake that many newbie writers make with their first novel is a lack of character development. As the story unravels, the plot isn’t the only thing that develops – so do the characters. Too often, aspiring writers make the mistake of establishing a character that is already complete.

Mostly, the character has a personality that the writer enjoys. The character’s flaws appear to be more charming than detrimental, and it seems like the story always goes their (the character’s) way. However, this isn’t the right way to write an engaging character.

An engaging character isn’t perfect – your readers will find it hard to relate to a character who is perfect. An interesting character is essentially flawed and noticeably so. You will want to present the character’s problems, fears, and weaknesses from the very start of the novel.

Ideally, the protagonist should always start off weak – in some respect – and it is only through other characters and significant scenes in the story that the protagonist learns and grows. With that said, if you want to avoid making this common mistake, carefully assess your protagonist and the type of story you want to tell your readers.

Look at your main character and see where you can create a weakness in their personality that suits the story and their overall personality. This way, you can help your character become better-rounded, and by the time the story ends, your readers will have lived the entire story while relating to the main character.

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Too Much Exposition

The third mistake that many newbie writers make while writing their story/ novel is too much exposition. Exposition is an essential part of every novel. The more unique the world space and idea – the more likely you will need to include exposition in your story.

Many writers understand exposition to be a poor storytelling technique that is sometimes used to quickly get a lot of information across. Yet – exposition is sometimes unavoidable in a story. Sometimes, readers need those details and bursts of information to fully understand the world, space, and ideas.

In the absence of exposition, many aspects of the story can be confusing and frustrating. A common tactic of exposition is to have a main character that is new to the beautiful or terrifying parts of the story, so they can learn from the other characters – and the readers can know through them.

Nonetheless, you will want to avoid the common problem of including too much exposition. Too much exposition tends to break the flow of the story, and most likely, the readers lose interest and put down the book, which you want to prevent at all costs.

Besides preventing too much exposition, you will want to maintain proper pacing throughout the story to keep your readers hooked. Pacing is the speed at which the story unfolds – depending on the scene, the pacing can be faster or slower – but – overall, the pacing should be consistent.


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