Mistake 15: Not Being Able to Succinctly Say What Your Work Is About

70 Solutions to Common Writing Mistakes by Bob Mayer, from The Writer’s Digest Writing Kit

Why this is a mistake: In my experience, people who cannot effectively summarize their work usually have a project that has no focus. Have you ever started a novel and gotten lost halfway through? Have you ever written a full-length feature article only to realize at the end that a tangential side note took over your piece around word 562? If so, then you probably didn’t have a firm grasp on your starting point and a clear concept of how to get to your intended ending. Big mistake.

The solution:
When you begin a new writing project, sit down and write out the original creative idea from which that project originated. Print it out and tape it somewhere in your office where you can see it every time you work on the project. It will keep you on track. A novel, for example, is a very long, slow journey full of many surprising twists and turns. Along that journey it is very easy to get lost. To have a subplot overwhelm your main plot. To have your protagonist react in a manner that distracts from the story line. To have your research overwhelm your topic of choice.

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