1. E. C. Scrubb
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    E. C. Scrubb Active Member

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    The 8 (plus?) Deadly Sins of Writing!

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by E. C. Scrubb, Aug 19, 2012.

    In another thread, someone said "that's the eighth deadly sin of writing."

    That got me to thinking - and wondering what are the other "deadly sins" of writing. I was wondering what everyone else thought, both in humor, and in reality.

    I think we all might agree on the first deadly sin, but the rest of them are in no particular order:

    1. Plagiarism

    2. All "telling" or "showing" without a mix

    3. Bad punctuation

    4. Using adjectives like Stephanie Meyer

    5. Using adverbs like JKR

    6. ???
     
  2. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Two-dimensional villains who are "evil for evil's sake".
     
  3. Pheonix
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    Pheonix A Singer of Space Operas and The Fourth Mod of RP Staff Contributor

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    I'm so happy you made a thread out of this :-D

    After you said that in the other thread it got me thinking. Here's what i came up with. I know it's incomplete...but

    1.Plagarism
    2.Misuse of semi; colons
    3.Subject/verb disagreement
    4.iMpRoPer UsE oF CapiTols
    5."Using adverbs in dialoge tags." He said dramatically
    6.Utilizing a magnanimous variety of verbosities with the express intention of pronouncing exceedingly concise ponderings. (Saying little with many words.)
    7.Describing things it TOO much detail.
    8.Being a lazy writer
    9.Not breaking any of the other 8 rules to make your writing interesting.
     
  4. AnonyMouse
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    AnonyMouse Contributing Member Contributor

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    OMG I luv dis thread. IMHO u guys covered errythang. IDK wut else 2 add 2 wuts alrdy bin sed so Ill just say xoxo lol rofl lmao 4evar
     
  5. Pheonix
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    Pheonix A Singer of Space Operas and The Fourth Mod of RP Staff Contributor

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    Oh! Cliches!
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Believing that dialogue should literally reflect conversation.

    Real conversation is boring, and is 90% noise. If you have ever read a wiretap transcript, you'll understand this. What you want is to give the illusion of natural speech, but keep the dialogue purposeful. This is part of why dialogue is so challenging.

    I don't know if this will fit in anyone's top eight writing pitfalls, but it is a very common misconception.
     
  7. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Confusing homynyms, like "capital" and "capitol".

    Also "there", "their" and "they're" (an abuse seen with irritating frequency on this site).

    Starting forum posts with "So..." (as in, "So, I have been working on...").

    Sorry, that last one just jumped out of my keyboard and posted itself.
     
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  8. E. C. Scrubb
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    E. C. Scrubb Active Member

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    Dang...

    Let's see if I have all of them so far:

    1. Plagiarism

    2. All "telling" or "showing" without a mix

    3. Bad punctuation

    4. Using adjectives like Stephanie Meyer

    5. Using adverbs like JKR

    6. Two-dimensional villains who are "evil for evil's sake"

    7.
    2.Misuse of semi; colons

    8. Subject/verb disagreement

    9. iMpRoPer UsE oF CapiTols

    10. "Using adverbs in dialoge tags." He said dramatically (c.f. Deadly Sin 5)

    11. Utilizing a magnanimous variety of verbosities with the express intention of pronouncing exceedingly concise ponderings. (Saying little with many words.)

    12. Describing things it TOO much detail.

    13. Being a lazy writer

    14. Not breaking any of the other 8 rules to make your writing interesting. (or any of them - E.C. Edit).

    15.
    Oh! Cliches!

    16.
    Believing that dialogue should literally reflect conversation

    17. C
    onfusing homynyms, like "capital" and "capitol"

    18.
    Also "there", "their" and "they're" (an abuse seen with irritating frequency on this site)

    Keep 'em coming.

    19. ???

    20. ???

    21. ??

    (P.S. I left off "Starting posts with 'so', mainly because I do it often, but also because it's a writing thread, not posting! [how about that rationalization?])
     
  9. Warp Zone
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    Warp Zone Contributing Member

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    Using a comma when a semi-colon should have been used.
     
  10. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Not varying sentence length. Hemingway used short sentences. Short sentences are therefore good. Long sentences are bad. Use short sentences. Even sentence fragments. That is how to write well. This is a good paragraph. It uses short sentences. Short sentences are punchy. Punchiness is good. We like to read punchy writing. Long sentences are not punchy. So there are no long sentences in this paragraph. Punchiness is always better. Short sentences are always better. You can tell because you like this paragraph. Right?
     
  11. E. C. Scrubb
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    E. C. Scrubb Active Member

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    Hmm, a couple posts here remind me of another one.

    21. sarcasm. ;) :laughing.

    On a serious note, too much sarcasm or snarky comments can make the MC unlikable really fast.
     
  12. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Mixing metaphors. When you mix metaphors, you’re just putting yourself behind the eight ball in the bottom of the ninth, bailing for all you’re worth before the oncoming train upsets your applecart, leaving you a day late and a dollar short just when you’re up the creek without a monkey wrench.
     
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  13. Pheonix
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    Pheonix A Singer of Space Operas and The Fourth Mod of RP Staff Contributor

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    This is amazing. Thank you... just thank you for all that you do. :)
     
  14. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    1. Pronoun confusion. I say this because well, this happened in my initial writings for what is now my novel!

    So by this I mean, for example: (from my own bad writing)
    - Patricia stood at the door trembling. He looked up at the pale woman. (technically ok but it just jars because you expect it to be "she" looked up, not a random character looking up who has not been introduced previously!)
    - He looked at them. There were five High Priests. One of them wore a red robe and he held a staff. He wasn't sure what they wanted. (this one I made up, kinda a paraphrase of what was actually in a very old discarded draft of mine - after 1.5 pages of simple 'he's you start to wonder who's doing what)

    2. Thinking out loud.
    So when you build up an event logically and you stir certain questions in the reader, and it's working well, and just as the reader asks the question you want him/her to ask, you write out the exact same question within the narrative. This is trying way too hard to get a message across and patronises your readers.

    3. Overuse of dramatic pauses. For example:
    John came home and he was starving, so he decided to eat. He rummaged around the fridge and, at last, found himself a chicken leg, and a slice of cake.
    It was pure heaven.

    "At last", the comma before "and" regarding the food, and the entirely separate paragraph on how John perceived the food - all dramatic pauses and probably way too many in the space of like 3 sentences! It cheapens the writing, tries too hard.

    Btw, this is all things that I am in habit of doing and am only just realising I do it... :rolleyes:
     
  15. Warde
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    Warde Member

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    On that note, we really can't leave run-on sentences off of this list as they leave the reader gasping, blue, at the end of ten lines of pauseless prose which could quite easily have been salvaged by the interjection of a few well placed full stops were the writer to have thought a little more clearly about how the different ideas she is trying to convey could be separated effectively as well as how best to maintain a comfortable blood oxygen saturation in her readers.
     
  16. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    - Writing to impress rather than to communicate.

    A whole lot of other sins--thesaurus overuse, inappropriately inflated vocabulary, unnecessarily complex structures, purple prose, over-description--fall under this motivation.

    - It's not one of the top eight, but it drives me crazy--naming characters based on their personality or profession or appearance. A character's parents didn't say, "Ah, our child will be a beautiful fiery redhead who will be bitten by a mutated garden mole and become an underground superhero, so we will name her..." They say, "Awww, she looks just like her aunt Kathy, and y'know, Kathy's going to have a lot of money to leave when she dies, so...?"

    Only if a character renames herself, or your story has a fairy-tale mood that makes it logical for the past to see the future, does it make sense to name a character based on things that are known well after they're born.

    - Spoonfeeding conclusions and information to the reader, for things that the reader can figure out for themselves. (Or things that they can live without.)
     
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  17. Solar
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    Solar Contributing Member Contributor

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    Lack of precision. What kind of writing? Newspaper? Commercial? Legal? Poetry? (etc)


    lol

    Bumlicking is definitely up there with plagiarism.

    However, lying is surely the darkest sin of all:

     
  18. Fullmetal Xeno
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    Fullmetal Xeno Protector of Literature Contributor

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    Naming a character Skeeter?
     
  19. fwc577
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    fwc577 Member

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    Submitting your work to a critique group without first giving it a read over.

    I mean seriously. Sometimes it feels like the writing that gets submitted got crapped straight from someones brain into the forum post or onto the paper they brought to the group. It is loaded with errors and is confusing. I hate it when someone is reading work at a critique group they've just written and they start stumbling because something they wrote made no sense and it's the first time they're catching the obvious mistake.
     
  20. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    When the writer/wizard can be seen behind the curtain.

    Smoke and mirror writing that's not foolin' anyone!
    That's when things happen for no reason. When characters stumble around
    with no depth, in a cardboard landscape, spouting dialogue that's cringe worthy.
     
  21. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    What, precisely, do you mean? This is basically saying that bad writing is a deadly sin of writing. What is "smoke and mirror writing?" What do you mean by a character with "no depth?" What is a "cardboard landscape?" What, in your view, is "cringe worthy" dialogue?

    A thread like this should help us identify bad writing; it shouldn't just tell us to avoid it.
     
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  22. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I could go the grammatical route - but that's been basically covered.
    I decided to go the bad writing route because the others can be fixed fairly easily, these not so easy.
    Smoke and Mirror writing for me is anything focused on surface.

    When things happen for no reason - That's when a writer is so consumed with getting from point a - beginning, to point b - the
    end, that they haven't clearly mapped out any events for the middle resorting in a lot of scenes that could come out
    of left field. These include disconnected scenes - What if Brody in Jaws decided to go off an get a face lift during all
    the uproar? The readers would be going what is he doing?! Life insurance might be more appropriate and at least offering
    some meaning back to the plot, and characters.


    When characters stumble around with no depth - a character with no goal(s) is a character with no depth.
    Take a movie like Man on Fire every character has a goal -even if it changes. Pita's goal is to get a dog, stop
    taking piano, have her parents respect her choices and finally to get Creasy to like her. Creasy's goals are to
    end his misery, find forgiveness, avenge his new-found friend.
    Characters can't wander around waiting for their story to evolve - they need to fight for everything they
    achieve and gain. Not just a physical fight, it's emotional, battling obsticles even of their own making.

    Cardboard landscapes -The arid landscape of The Rainmaker helped to symbolically linc the story of a
    barren woman finally finding love. Is the setting working for the writer, or is the writer taking it for granted.
    Leaving behind an opportunity to link setting to characters & plots - cardboard landscapes can appear with
    vague placement- an apartment / meadow/ castle - with hazy descriptions - couch, flowers , stone walls.
    Cardboard landscapes occur most often when precise words aren't used.

    Cringe worthy dialogue. This is the hardest. But it happens when the writer is so focused on the
    plot they're trying to manuever the characters as quickly as possible to the action. They don't
    really know their characters and resort to movie lingo with a lot of speech tags - said fiercely, angrily,
    with a good deal of emotion.
    Cringe worthy dialogue usually appears when writers frequently use dress up their saids with a lot
    of adjectives and never allow their characters to express opinions, only lengthy discourses.
     
  23. fwc577
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    fwc577 Member

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    I see cringeworthy dialogue a little different. To me cringeworthy dialogue is hearing someone say something that nobody would ever say. One example is their precise emotions in a tirade another would be a small "speech" during normal dialogue. I find some people like to have paragraph or two of someone saying something and dialogue just doesn't occur that way. I've never sat down and had a conversation nor seen a conversation where one person is completely silent while someone else drones on and on and on (outside of a therapy session lol). Now, I'm not saying that doesn't occur but I see it happen a lot in unpublished author works. Dialogue is more about give and take.
     
  24. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    Procrastination - which I am doing at this moment.
     
  25. E. C. Scrubb
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    E. C. Scrubb Active Member

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    1. Plagiarism

    2. All "telling" or "showing" without a mix

    3. Bad punctuation

    4. Using adjectives like Stephanie Meyer

    5. Using adverbs like JKR

    6. Two-dimensional villains who are "evil for evil's sake"

    7.
    2.Misuse of semi; colons

    8. Subject/verb disagreement

    9. iMpRoPer UsE oF CapiTols

    10. "Using adverbs in dialoge tags." He said dramatically (c.f. Deadly Sin 5)

    11. Utilizing a magnanimous variety of verbosities with the express intention of pronouncing exceedingly concise ponderings. (Saying little with many words.)

    12. Describing things it TOO much detail.

    13. Being a lazy writer (c.f. 29, 34)

    14. Not breaking any of the other 8 rules to make your writing interesting. (or any of them - E.C. Edit).

    15.
    Oh! Cliches!

    16.
    Believing that dialogue should literally reflect conversation

    17. C
    onfusing homynyms, like "capital" and "capitol"

    18.
    Also "there", "their" and "they're" (an abuse seen with irritating frequency on this site)

    19. Comma/Semicolon confusion (c.f. 3 - and threads on whether to even use a semicolon)

    20. Not varying sentence length

    21. Making the MC too snarky or sarcastic

    22. Mixing metaphors (never mix a metaphor, it's the end the hell on earth if you do - or something to do with being up a creek without a monkey wrench)

    23. Pronoun confusion

    24. Treating your readers as stupid (leading a reader to a question that you want them to ask, but then putting it in the text yourself just to make sure they get it [originally written as "thinking out loud"])

    25. Overly dramatic (including pauses - I stretched this one to include all types of drama, not just pauses)

    26. Run-on sentences

    27. Writing to impress, rather than communicate

    28. Spoonfeeding conclusions (c.f. 24)

    29. Lack of precision (c.f. 13, 34)

    30. Bumlicking/brown-nosing

    31. Naming a character Skeeter (almost as bad as Eustace Clarence Scrubb, isn't it?)

    32. When the writer can be seen behind the writing (dare I say, that especially includes self-inserts? See next three for explanation)

    33. Character with no goal/no depth

    34. Cardboard landscapes/vagueness (He walked into an apartment. . .)/hazy descriptions (a flower, etc.) (c.f 13, 29)

    35. Cringeworthy Dialogue/making your characters speak in ways they never would (c.f. 4, 5, 10)

    ____
    Writing process -

    1. Submitting work to a critique group without doing your own editing/proofing first.

    2. Procrastination

    __

    If I can I get you all to number them as you go, I'll keep making the list. It makes cutting and pasted a whole lot easier. Honestly, this list is a really good reminder for me when I write.
     

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