Common Writing Mistakes


Shutterstock / MGiuliana © writing mistakes

I thought it would be beneficial to list some common writing mistakes we see in story submissions to the “Friend”.

“Show, don’t tell”

The old fiction adage is important as it lets characters express themselves. It also helps the reader feel more part of the story. New writers have a habit of telling readers what’s happening, rather than letting this naturally unfold through the characters.

Telling: He was afraid as the figure approached.

Showing: His heartbeat quickened at the sound of the heavy footsteps.

Telling: It was love, of that she was sure. But did he feel the same way?

Showing: Their hands touched and she felt a shiver of excitement. “I want us to run away tonight,” he said.

Unlikable characters

Strange as it seems, we receive lots of stories featuring unpleasant characters.

Characters don’t have to be perfect, but they should still possess positive, admirable traits. Think of your characters as people the readers would happily invite into their homes; people they can relate to and trust.

By all means, give your characters a flaw or two – but always highlight their redeeming qualities, too.

Storylines shouldn’t offend or disappoint, either. It’s not a perfect world, but the reader wants escapism, where the word “hope” is prevalent.

Pacing the plot

The plot of a story has to go somewhere. It has to contain scenes that help build character motivation.

I know when a plot isn’t the strongest when my mind begins to wander. I liken this to a wandering storyline, where the protagonist is ambling aimlessly through the course of the story.

A story doesn’t have to contain lavish settings or action-packed scenes to become a good read.

But there should be a connection of events that piques reader interest throughout.

Introduce character goals sooner rather than later, and then introduce complications into the mix. Use conflict to raise tension, culminating in a satisfying ending.


Feel like you’ve avoided these common writing mistakes? Click here for details on how to submit your story.

Alan Spink

Alan is a member of the “Friend” Fiction Team. He enjoys working closely with writers and being part of the creative process which sees storytelling ideas come to fruition. A keen reader, he also writes fiction and enjoys watching football and movies in his spare time. His one aspiring tip to new writers is to “write from your imagination”.