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One Common Writing Mistake in Fiction

Freelance fiction editor Beth Hill writes The Editor’s Blog, and her recent post, “Everyone Does It–Common Writing Mistakes,” offers a number of helpful observations for rewriting a first draft manuscript.

The one that resonated with proposals I have seen this year is:  Giving readers too much time in a character’s head. Beth writes that she also sees this problem frequently, especially in first-person narration. Several of her other mistakes also relate, such as switching point of view (POV) characters in a scene and having the POV character notice things about him- or herself that normal people don’t notice.

The reader is told what the character hears instead of merely hearing for himself. Symptoms of this mistake include phrasing such as I heard a footstep rather than A heavy foot found the squeaky third floorboard.

Some authors claim these things make their fiction special or distinctive. To my mind, however, it makes the fiction inattentive or even lazy.


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