1. Oldmanofthemountain

    Oldmanofthemountain Member

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    What are the most common errors amateur writers tend to make in the writing industry?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Oldmanofthemountain, Aug 15, 2020.

    What are the most common mistakes amateur writers tend to make in the writing business? What are some ways to avoid making such mistakes?
     
  2. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    dude.png
     
  3. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 HP: 12/210 MP: 0/130 Contributor

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    Trying to get validation from other people for their ideas before ever putting finger to keyboard.
     
  4. Fervidor

    Fervidor Senior Member

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    Being impatient, not realizing that it's a skill that takes years to master.

    Thinking their first big idea is going to be their magnus opus and that they'll never think of anything that good ever again, thus feeling pressured to pull it off perfectly on the first try.

    Thinking writing is a science rather than an art - that is to say that it's something you can learn just by following instructions, as opposed to something one must come to understand on an intuitive level.

    Listening too much to amateur critics who also think writing well is a matter of following arbitrary rules rather than creating a subjective experience. Paradoxically, being very unwilling to accept serious direct criticism from more experienced writers/critics, because they are too emotionally invested in their project.

    Being way too hard on themselves when they inevitably write something terrible, due to misconceptions listed above, and descending into self-destructive perfectionism.
     
  5. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    Writers need to read. If you're not already a reader, you're not ready to be a writer. Too many people seem to think they don't need to read or that reading how-to books will teach them everything they need to know. Read actual books if you want to write them. You really won't have much success if any skipping this step.
     
  6. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

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    All of the posts above, and adding:

    Doing months of detailed world building and character design without having a single idea of what the story these things will inhabit is.

    Not reading in your genre to identify common themes, tropes and what readers are interested in buying.

    Believing that an idea has to be 100% brand new and never written before. Execution is far more important than originality, IMO.
     
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  7. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I get that we all have our own processes, but this one right here never fails to stump me because of the level of investment that seems to be in play, at least if the posts in forums like these are any genuine measure. I couldn't imagine putting that much effort into something where I don't even have a story idea driving the creation. :wtf:
     
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  8. Bone2pick

    Bone2pick Prince of Typos Contributor

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    Is that really a common problem?
     
  9. Murkie

    Murkie Active Member

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    Not so much a case of spending months on it, but at one point I thought writing a character from my story in an everyday situation would help me understand the character better.
    I spent a week on it and ended up losing all interest in the character.

    Never doing that again.
     
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  10. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 HP: 12/210 MP: 0/130 Contributor

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    I sort of get it. For some people, the world building is an worthwhile exercise in itself. For many, it's the writing of the story, but not all.

    I built a world for my D&D campaigns when I was a whippersnapper. It was very detailed - maps, weather patterns, economies, history, creation myths, the whole shebang. It was fun to do. It was a bog standard high fantasy setting, and I've used it as a setting for some of my fantasy stories, but more because I had it available. Nowadays, I tend to create a new world for a new story, because the story drives the world, not the other way around, but I do still reuse it from time to time.
     
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  11. Bone2pick

    Bone2pick Prince of Typos Contributor

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    That's not hard to believe. I don't view it as the same thing though.
     
  12. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

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    I've seen it a few times on the boards here. Enough that it came to mind when I saw the OP.

    My impression - which may or may not be correct - it that it comes from people who have never written fiction before but actively participate in RPG.
     
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  13. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 HP: 12/210 MP: 0/130 Contributor

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    I would concur.

    I also think there are some who believe that if they make their worlds "interesting" (read - minutely detailed) enough, that will automatically make their stories interesting.
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2020
  14. Cephus

    Cephus Contributor Contributor

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    Everything above is absolutely true. Add in things like not understanding the industry at all, not understanding how to write, not having any experience in the genre you're trying to write in, thinking that your first book is going to be a success, or even publishable, trying to write by committee, spending all of your time online looking for validation (that's a biggie), being in a hurry because nothing in publishing works in a hurry, doing it for the wrong reasons (I don't care if you want to see your books on a shelf somewhere, that's a terrible reason to write), etc. The list goes on and on and on and it's painfully obvious to see amateur writers that haven't got a clue or haven't done any research on their own by the questions that they ask. This is not a group activity. It's one person sitting for hours in front of keyboard pounding away. It's fine to have a community, but that community isn't going to do the work for you.
     
  15. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 HP: 12/210 MP: 0/130 Contributor

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    Also - thinking that if your friends and family tell you your writing is good, that means it therefore is.
     
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  16. Bone2pick

    Bone2pick Prince of Typos Contributor

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    Ah, total storytelling virgins. I confess I wasn't considering them; I had the hobbyist writer with some amount of writing under their belt in mind.
     
  17. PaperandPencil

    PaperandPencil Member

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    Also, the opposite can be true: thinking your writing sucks because your family doesn't accept your genre/subject matter.
     
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  18. Oldmanofthemountain

    Oldmanofthemountain Member

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    As a question for anyone here, how does one get a foothold in the writing industry?
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2020
  19. Lazaares

    Lazaares Senior Member

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    Want to chime in to highlight this. Worldbuilding can in fact be done for worldbuilding's sake and half the people around the relevant subreddit are open about this; that they don't wish to seat a novel or RPG in their world.

    Then again, those that come /here/...

    I've zero authority to answer this question from any perspective other than someone's with a few irrelevant short story contest entries/wins, but I found my writing improved vastly when I concentrated on small projects (short stories) and gathered critique from better / more experienced writers. Also helped a lot to give critique myself.
     
  20. Not the Territory

    Not the Territory Active Member

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    Agree with pretty much all above.

    Amateurs tend to (Most of us here, at least myself for certain, are still amateurs to be fair):

    Completely underestimate just how much work goes into writing.

    Try to write a book like it's a movie.

    Not bother researching grammar and punctuation.

    Assume that they don't gain anything from giving a detailed critique.
     
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  21. Cephus

    Cephus Contributor Contributor

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    It's not easy. It's a lot of hard work and especially networking. I got into the traditional side of things because I was friends with a lot of well-known authors in my genre. I never pushed them to read what I wrote, they knew that I did and they either asked to see some of it or they got their hands on it and through one of them, he sent a book of mine to his agent and that agent contacted me after his son read my book in the slush pile and liked it. It's not easy to break in. A lot of it is who you know or who you happen to catch on a good day.
     
  22. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    I agree with @Cephus that who you know can definitely help. Sometimes my connections have helped and sometimes they haven't. Even when you have connections the work has to be publishable quality. A favor might get you read, but it's the work that will get you published. And I think it's so true that you have to get the editor or agent on a good day. Of course, that's out of your control, but the quality of work comes down to you.

    It's not always about who you know. I believe good writing gets noticed. I've got a few pretty impressive writing credits from places I knew no one. Just went the good old slush pile route and things worked out. One thing to keep in mind when trying to break into the industry is that your competition is NOT other aspiring writers. It's the writers who already have published books or have won awards and so on. Your competition is the professional writers. You have to be able to compete at that level and write at that level.

    The other thing is you need to be able to handle rejection. Ten rejections is nothing. Twenty is nothing. A hundred is nothing. And rejection is always going to be a part of writing no matter how many times you publish or how many stories you write. You are going to be rejected more times than you think. This is where your drive comes in. Take a closer look at your story and make changes accordingly. Know who is publishing what so you're pitching or sending your material to the right people. It's also important to keep writing new things. Not everything we write is going to result in a book deal or end up in the pages of a magazine.

    One thing that a pretty well-known writer told me is that you always write what you're supposed to write when you're supposed to write it. This was during a discussion on rejection. She already had a few published books, but then she wrote one she really believed in and it seemed like it was rejected from everywhere. So, she rewrote the whole book, taking on a much different and sort of experimental structure. It changed the book, but that one sold and has done quite well. She said she never would have been able to write the story she did if she hadn't written it the other way first. We have to keep writing and rewriting if this is the industry for us.
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2020
  23. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

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    As for my own personal experience, I polished the hell out of my manuscript with the help of multiple betas, found a publisher in my genre that accepted unsolicited manuscripts, and by some alignment of the stars was accepted very quickly after submission. I'll never know what there was about my manuscript that caught the submissions editor's eye, but I think it was a combination of an interesting premise, 100% adherence to submission guidelines, and a whole lot of luck. And I guess the writing wasn't too shabby either. ;)

    I developed a great relationship with the publisher, primarily by being very open to editorial critique, which took me through another two books with them and a short story in one of their anthology collections. They unfortunately went out of business last year, but I recently self-published my backlist to much greater success than I'd even hoped for. I'm 100% sure that readers from my traditional days had a lot to do with that - without that following on social media I don't think I'd see nearly as much traction as a self-pubbed author, especially since I haven't done any paid advertising yet.
     
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  24. A.M.P.

    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Contributor

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    Don't get caught up in what you want the results of your writing to be.
    Don't daydream the glory, the adulation, the potential book to Netflix deals, don't think of the talk shows, or of how you'll mystify your fans with your great insight and subtle prose.
    Or end up writing a weighted goal rather than a proper story.
     
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  25. Cephus

    Cephus Contributor Contributor

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    That's absolutely true. Ultimately, it's up to you to produce saleable work, no matter who you know, but knowing people can get your work in front of the right eyes to get it purchased. If the right people don't see it, then it doesn't matter how good it is, it's going nowhere.

    Also true. However, the realities of publishing are such that any advantage you can get, you ought to take it. There are a lot of things that are completely beyond your control and the best book in the world can get overlooked due to a particular set of circumstances. You can submit to an agent, or your agent to a publisher, and it just goes into a pile of work to be looked at someday. How fast they work through the thousands of submissions is anyone's guess. Plus, it doesn't matter if your book is the next Harry Potter if that publisher just signed another author with the same premise last week. Your book has to be in the right place at the right time with the right market conditions to sell in 2 years, which is the average amount of time it takes from contract to publication.

    This is one of the things I've harped on, but most amateurs don't want to listen. Writing is a hard game. The overwhelming majority of people who play, lose. You need to know the odds going in and still be able to sit down at the table, knowing that your chances are very poor. You also need to have an incredibly thick skin because you will be criticized, you will be attacked and you're going to get called every name in the book. If that bothers you, if you break down because people don't like what you do, then you are in the wrong field. Nobody cares about your work as much as you do. If you're doing this for personal validation, you are in for a shock because nobody is going to care about you. Yet most amateur writers are only looking for validation and they're just not going to get any in the long run. That's not what this game is.
     
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