Deadly sins of writing

Originally compiled by EC Scrubb (many contributors)

  1. big soft moose
    Updated list!

    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. 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 in TOO much detail.

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

    14. Not breaking any of the other rules to make your writing interesting. (except for rule 1 - E.C. Edit).

    15. Oh! Cliches!

    16. Believing that dialogue should literally reflect conversation

    17. Confusing 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)

    36. Exclamation mark abuse (c.f. 3)

    37. Making a book sounds like a game, leveling included

    38. Not utilizing the right word/misusing words according to their definitions

    39. Constant repetition of words (echoes)

    40. The cliche mirror description, or, just saying she had blue eyes and brown hair with lack of any 'real' description.

    41. Writing with the assumption that obnoxious, smirking, self-absorbed, generally mean or unpleasant character behavior is charming.

    42. Run-on Sentences - including overly long and complex sentences with no discernible purpose; such sentences normally do not have to be like that except for specific reasons: Dialogue; running internal thoughts (which, of course the author should try to stay away from using italics in these cases, as there's a discussion concerning whether such uses may hinder the writer from being published - a concern that many of us may have and all of us should keep in mind for future hope in publishing), whether in first person or third person points of view; and certain other situations that may come up from time to time

    43. Trying to make a character's name overly cool

    44. Overuse of foreshadowing

    45. Abusing the thesaurus

    46. Thesaurus solecism or misemployment, including malapropism (okay, deep breath)

    47. Using weak verbs/to be too much

    48. Writing to impress the reader rather than writing to move the reader

    49. Not giving your protagonist a major stumbling block, and/or allowing your protagonist to overcome every single challenge thrown at them

    50. Spelenk ewrors

    51. Worrying to much about the rules instead of just writing what you feel works the best (c.f. 14)

    52. Improper use of "to" and "too" (c.f. 17, 18)

    53. Long, meaningless descriptions of characters

    54. Quitting because your first draft sucks

    55. Making token minority characters, or resorting to stereotypes or caricatures

    56. Comparing yourself to the masters

    57. Becoming too afraid of cliches

    58. Trying to impress everyone with your writing

    59. Not writing for your target audience

    60. Doing something differently for the same of doing something differently

    61. Bad metaphors
    Writing process -

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

    2. Procrastination

    3. Reading only within your chosen genre, as opposed to widely and voraciously
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