Top Ten Writing Mistakes Editors See Every Day

Confessions of a Creative Writing Teacher

Goya -The sleep of reason produces monsters (c1799) recut

In addition to writing and teaching, one of the things I do for a living is to evaluate manuscripts for their suitability for publication. I read fiction (and non-fiction) across several genres, and write comprehensive reports on the books. I try always to guide the author towards knocking his or her project into a shape that could be credibly presented to literary agents, publishers and general readers. You know how Newman and Mittelmark introduce How Not to Write a Novel by saying, ‘We are merely telling you the things that editors are too busy rejecting your novel to tell you themselves, pointing out the mistakes they recognize instantly because they see them again and again in novels they do not buy,’ well they’re right; I am one of those editors.

However good the idea behind a novel, when the author is still learning the craft of writing – like any…

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I’ve figured it out.

I’ve finally decided on the endgame for the series.  It’s not exactly a happy ending, but there will be closure and redemption.  There were a few places I saw it going, but I finally was able to see it clearly this weekend.  (Obviously I won’t be spoiling it on here!)  I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was unsure whether or not one of the characters was evil…That has also been decided.  All of this makes editing a lot easier!

Musical Inspiration

If I had to choose a song that described the series I’m writing, it would be “Seven Devils” by Florence and the Machine.


 

Holy water cannot help you now
Thousand armies couldn’t keep me out
I don’t want your money
I don’t want your crown
See I’ve come to burn your kingdom down

Holy water cannot help you now
See I’ve come to burn your kingdom down
And no rivers and no lakes can put the fire out
I’m gonna raise the stakes, I’m gonna smoke you out

Seven devils all around me!
Seven devils in my house!
See they were there when I woke up this morning
I’ll be dead before the day is done

Seven devils all around you
Seven devils in your house
See I was dead when I woke up this morning
I’ll be dead before the day is done
Before the day is done

And now all your love will be exorcised
And we will find you saints to be canonized
And it’s an even song
It’s a melody
It’s a battle cry
It’s a symphony

Seven devils all around me
Seven devils in my house
See they were there when I woke up this morning
I’ll be dead before the day is done

Seven devils all around you
Seven devils in your house
See I was dead when I woke up this morning
I’ll be dead before the day is done
Before the day is done
Before the day is done
Before the day is done

They can keep me out
‘Til I tear the walls
‘Til I save your heart
And to take your soul
For what has been done
Cannot be undone
In the evil’s heart
In the evil’s soul

Seven devils all around you
Seven devils in your house
See I was dead when I woke up this morning
I’ll be dead before the day is done
Before the day is done

 

An End to Procrastination?

I’m actually getting really bored with the things I usually use to procrastinate, so hopefully I’ll be able to blast through the last chapter I have to write!  (Of course, then I have to go back and add in a few scenes and make sure there are no plot holes/contradictions…)

I think we ough…

I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound or stab us. If the book we’re reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow to the head, what are we reading for? So that it will make us happy, as you write? Good Lord, we would be happy precisely if we had no books, and the kind of books that make us happy are the kind we could write ourselves if we had to. But we need books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. That is my belief.

Franz Kafka

Does Pain Create Good Artists?

I’ve seen quite a few people get indignant about the romanticization of mental illness and the idea of the “depressed artist.”  They say that mental illness is incredibly painful (I can attest to that), not something to be desired (obviously), and that romanticization lessens the struggles of those who suffer from it (true to some extent).

On some level, this is true.  Mental illness can be debilitating.  There are some days I have laid in bed, staring at the wall, incapable of accomplishing anything.  But I would never have started writing if I didn’t suffer from depression in high school.  It was my only outlet, and I poured my pain into poems.  Some of them were good and some of them were crap.  As I kept writing, they got better.  If I hadn’t suffered because of my mental illness and the traumas I experienced, I would never have been published in my university’s literary journal.  I probably wouldn’t have taken creative writing classes.  I definitely would not be writing a novel.

Mental illness is horrible.  But as Dostoevsky said, “Suffering is the sole origin of consciousness.”  Pain creates beautiful art.  This does not make pain beautiful.

Also, here are two lists of authors and other artists who suffered from mental illness:

http://www.listal.com/list/authors-with-mental-illnesses

http://www.blisstree.com/2008/06/14/mental-health-well-being/famous-writers-and-artists-and-mental-illness-234/