Writing Fiction

Friend and accomplished novelist Terri Kraus recently sent me the following list of mistakes which authors typically make when writing fiction. Many of the points may also be applied to other genres. Personally, I’d add two cautions of my own: don’t run out of espresso beans or Italian opera selections.


  1. Don’t Make Excuses
  2. Don’t Consider Yourself Too Smart
  3. Don’t Show Off When You Write
  4. Don’t Expect Miracles
  5. Don’t Warm Up Your Engines
  6. Don’t Describe Sunsets
  7. Don’t Use Real People In Your Story
  8. Don’t Write About Wimps
  9. Don’t Duck Trouble
  10. Don’t Have Things Happen for No Reason
  11. Don’t Forget Stimulus and Response
  12. Don’t Forget Whose Story It Is
  13. Don’t Fail to Make the Viewpoint Clear
  14. Don’t Lecture Your Reader
  15. Don’t Let Your Characters Lecture, Either!
  16. Don’t Let Them Be Windbags
  17. Don’t Mange Characters’ Speech
  18. Don’t Forger Sense Impressions
  19. Don’t Be Afraid to Say “Said”
  20. Don’t Assume You Know: Look It Up
  21. Don’t Ever Stop Observing and Making Notes
  22. Don’t Ignore Scene Structure
  23. Don’t End Scenes With a Disaster
  24. Don’t Forget to Let Your Characters Think
  25. Don’t Wander Around in a Fog
  26. Don’t Worry About Being Obvious
  27. Don’t Criticize Yourself to Death
  28. Don’t Worry What Mother Will Think
  29. Don’t Hide From Your Feelings
  30. Don’t Take It To the Club Meeting
  31. Don’t Ignore Professional Advice
  32. Don’t Chase the Market
  33. Don’t Pose and Posture
  34. Don’t Waste Your Plot Ideas
  35. Don’t Stop Too Soon
  36. Don’t Prejudice Your Editor
  37. Don’t Give Up
  38. Don’t Just Sit There

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