Over the years I’ve attended a number of writer’s workshops. I always like the agent and editor panels because you can learn a lot from them. Here are twenty-one things that make an editor stop reading your and my manuscripts. These have been gleaned from numerous editor/agent panels at writer’s workshops.
- Telling versus showing.
- The fourth wall ( 2nd person) addressing the reader.
- Passive voice.
- Waking up to find it was a dream.
- Openings that start with dream and cliques.
- Poor openings.
- Weak hooks.
- Info dumps.
- Spell check reliance. You miss a lot of correctly spelled, but wrong usage words when you rely on spell check.
- Background information before it’s relevant.
- “Fish out of water” cliques. Make us see the fish again.
- No conflict in the first 50 pages.
- Poor characterization.
- Forced twists.
- Being too clever with structure and time lines.
- Characters reminiscing (flashbacks).
- Flat characters. Give editors a reason to follow them. Attach a personality to them.
- Similar names and names that start with the same letters.
- Simple dialogue tags. Too many he said she said and not enough action tags with dialogue.
Which of these things do you find yourself doing?