Skip to main content

14 Amateur Mistakes Every Writer Should Avoid

It's easier than you think to intrude in your own story. Avoid these common writing mistakes for more professional writing from start to finish.

Don't make these common writing mistakes!

We all need help writing a novel from time to time—whether that be during national novel writing month (NaNoWriMo) or while working on your novel as part of your New Year's resolution—and we want to help you improve your novel (and avoid mistakes in all your future writing). There are several missteps that unpublished writers make that scream "rookie" to agents and publishers. Most are easy to fix, but the key is identifying them. That's where we can help.

In this Writer's Digest free download, How to Avoid Amateur Mistakes, James V. Smith, Jr., walks you through 14 of the most common faux pas that many writers make when working on their first few novels. Making these changes will help improve your writing and make it look more professional. Plus, it will help you speed up your writing process and allow you the opportunity to write a novel in a month, if you're up to the challenge.

With the tips on avoiding mistakes and novel writing help in this free download, you'll be on your way a novel that's professional from start to finish. Enter your email to join Writer's Digest and get your free download.

Enter your email to join the Writer's Digest newsletter and get your FREE download!

14 tips to help every writer avoid amateur writing mistakes.

Sneak Peek – Tips on Writing Better

As a writer, one of your top goals should be not to intrude in your story. The problem is, many of us do it without even realizing it. Here are a few examples from this FREE download of ways writers intrude in their stories and hurt the end product, making it more difficult to get published:

Tired Expressions

Like right out of sitcoms, movies, or even the day's news. Using them is like putting a stick-on note in the margin of your manuscript: Hi, I'm the author, and I watch too much TV. Hell-OH-o, don't go there, I don't think so as in any sitcom or teen conversation.

Goofy Gimmicks and Grammatical Gadgets!!!

This includes alliteration—writing with words that begin with the same letter—and odd punctuation like multiple exclamation points.

Cute Quote Marks

She had never met an author so tall—seven feet, an authentic "literary giant." Do you see the quotes? That's the author. He's winking at you from behind the narrative, telling you he's made a funny, wanting you to notice it. Take off the quotes, and the irony works just as well.

Preaching From the Mouth of a Character

When I hear a novel's heroine use a tired expression like, "male chauvinist pig," whether the language comes in quotes or not, I know the writer couldn't find a more artful, less preachy way to say the same thing.

Help writing a book and avoiding amateur mistakes.

Are you ready for more? Get help with writing a book and avoid writing mistakes with this free download!

There are more ways a writer can intrude in a story, and more than a dozen common mistakes in writing are included in this FREE download. So sign up for our FREE newsletter and download How to Avoid Amateur Mistakes today! This is one of the most valuable free resources you'll own.

Enter your email to join the Writer's Digest newsletter and get your FREE download!

How Inspiration and Research Shape a Novel

How Inspiration and Research Shape a Novel

Historical fiction relies on research to help a story’s authenticity—but it can also lead to developments in the story itself. Here, author Lora Davies discusses how inspiration and research helped shape her new novel, The Widow’s Last Secret.

Poetic Forms

Saraband: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the saraband, a septet (or seven-line) form based on a forbidden dance.

Karen Hamilton: On Cause and Effect

Karen Hamilton: On Cause and Effect

International bestselling author Karen Hamilton discusses the “then and now” format of her new domestic thriller, The Ex-Husband.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: The Ultimatum

Plot Twist Story Prompts: The Ultimatum

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have a character give or face an ultimatum.

6 Things Every Writer Should Know About Sylvia Beach and Shakespeare and Company

6 Things Every Writer Should Know About Sylvia Beach and Shakespeare and Company

Sylvia Beach was friend to many writers who wrote what we consider classics today. Here, author Kerri Maher shares six things everyone should know about her and Shakespeare and Company.

How Writers Can Apply Business Tools to Their Writing

How Writers Can Apply Business Tools to Their Writing

Author Katherine Quevedo takes an analytical look at the creative process in hopes to help other writers find writing success.

Nick Petrie: On Following the Most Compelling Story

Nick Petrie: On Following the Most Compelling Story

Award-winning author Nick Petrie discusses how he listened to the story that wanted to be told in his new Peter Ash thriller novel, The Runaway.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 596

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a punishment poem.

Jacquelyn Mitchard: On Forgiveness in Fiction

Jacquelyn Mitchard: On Forgiveness in Fiction

Award-winning novelist Jacquelyn Mitchard discusses the chance meeting that led to her new novel, The Good Son.