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Top 10 Writing No-No’s

Published on 14/11/2023

Top 10 Writing No-No’s 
Teacher: Lil Chase, senior editor at Caroline Wakeman Literary Agency

There are many tropes and cliches writers use that immediately turn off an agent or commissioning editor. Some are worse than others and some are personal to that particular editor. Here are a few of the repeat offenders you might want to avoid:

  1. No starting a book or a chapter with a character waking up.
  2. No showing a journey that doesn’t need to be shown.
  3. No showing an arrival that doesn’t need to be shown.
    Show your character in the middle of the action and we will assume they have woken up, traveled, and arrived there.
  4. No sitting the character in front of the mirror in order to describe themselves for the benefit of the reader.
  5. No adverbs. They are telling. Show your reader how something is being done rather than telling it, unsubtly.
  6. No POV switches, even in 3rd person narration. Stick to one POV per chapter.
  7. No dreams. Many writers insert a dramatic moment that turns out to be a dream because the plot is dragging and lacking drama. But the reader feels tricked by a dream sequence. And no one really enjoys hearing about other people’s dreams!
  8. Don’t use the phrase ‘crooked smile’ when describing your handsome male lead.
  9. Don’t use the phrase ‘silent scream’.
  10. No having fun with fonts – use Calibri, Times New Roman, or Arial.

Take a look at your writing, if you see one of these cliches then ask yourself if you really need it. If you don’t, remove it.

Of course, rules are made to be broken. If something works, it works!

 

For more free tips for how to improve your writing for children’s books subscribe to our ITSme Learning Newsletter!

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