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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.

  1. Telling versus showing.
  2. The fourth wall ( 2nd person) addressing the reader.
  3. Passive voice.
  4. Dialect.
  5. Waking up to find it was a dream.
  6. Openings that start with dream and cliques.
  7. Poor openings.
  8. Weak hooks.
  9. Info dumps.
  10. Prologues.
  11. Spell check reliance. You miss a lot of correctly spelled, but wrong usage words when you rely on spell check.
  12. Background information before it’s relevant.
  13. “Fish out of water” cliques. Make us see the fish again.
  14. No conflict in the first 50 pages.
  15. Poor characterization.
  16. Forced twists.
  17. Being too clever with structure and time lines.
  18. Characters reminiscing (flashbacks).
  19. Flat characters. Give editors a reason to follow them. Attach a personality to them.
  20. Similar names and names that start with the same letters.
  21. 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?

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