Cardinal sin #1: being plain old boring! If all your main characters do, day after day, is ordinary things like waking up, showering, eating breakfast, dressing, going to work or to the gym, getting coffee, etc., etc. why the heck should anyone be interested? We all do those things! Nothing new here! Take us where we’ve never been before; let us experience something we’ve wished we could do, go places we’ve only dreamed about. Do not bore the reader to death: You need every one you can get!

Cardinal sin #2: confusing the reader! If you have a cast of characters longer than the Bible ( and they’re all named Erin, Eric, Eamon, Edward, Aaron, etc. Eek! ) you have a problem. Oh, and do not use unpronounceable names, a pet peeve of mine. Also, make sure the reader knows to whom your pronouns refer, ie:” He took it to him, and he grabbed it from him.” ( Say what? )

Cardinal sins #3,4,5, and 6: using poor grammar, using incorrect punctuation, not correcting your spelling, and not checking what every word you’ve used actually means! These errors can be easily remedied by doing a little research and by not depending exclusively on spell-check to find them!

Cardinal sin #7: being laughable when you aren’t intentionally writing comedy! It isn’t a compliment if your readers go into hysterics over your work when it’s intended to be serious. A for-instance: My daughters almost died laughing when they read this line I wrote in Judgment on Tartarus:” Grasping his dar’dul-adz firmly in his right hand…” Needless to say, I immediately changed that passage to be less laughter-provoking! ( This is only one of the reasons I advocate getting away from your novel before going back and looking at it with fresh eyes. I bet you’ll find yourself saying, “Oh! I didn’t mean to say that!”

And, finally, cardinal sin #8: being long-winded and rambling on aimlessly, adding nothing to your plot! In her Vampire Chronicles, Anne Rice tends to dwell on insignificant details, such as the architecture of New Orleans, for page after page, but she’s not writing a travelogue! A writer in one of my groups interspersed her love story with straight-from-the-encyclopedia facts about birds! Spare me; if I wanted to read all about birds, I’d be reading a bloody bird book!

Hopefully, this blog has helped you watch out for some of the pitfalls a writer must navigate around. We all make mistakes, no matter how experienced a writer we may be. Writing is a life-long learning experience. So keep on writing,