Straight talk from the sisters about blood, sweat and ink
S is for Sins
In the predawn light we commit them. We are breathless from a looming deadline, or perhaps blinded to our mistakes by pride. We might try to hide them. We dress them in setting and disguise them with witty dialogue. We pray no one will notice our blunder. Yet the error remains, a viper coiled within our pages and ready to strike when we least expect it. They are the deadly writer sins.
1. Syntax: Thou shalt not trust the opinions of sympathetic readers. Find the smartest, strictest, SOB of an editor and listen with your head and not your heart when they say something is wrong.
2. Sequels: Thou shalt give the reader a satisfying ending every time. It need not be a happy ending, but it must offer a conclusion of some sort. Common sense says a cliffhanger has never made anyone buy the next book unless they enjoyed its predecessor.
3. Sex: Thou shalt not surprise, or worse yet, shock, the reader with sex scenes they don’t expect. That means mention the erotica in the flipping blurb, people.
4. Silence: Thou shalt mute thee inner complainer. No one wants to hear about how agents, editors and readers are all wrong and if the publishing industry didn’t suck, show favoritism, etc… you would have a seven-figure deal.
5. Shapeshifters: Thou shalt not try to bend genre to thy will. Mixing story elements is fun, it’s where great books come from, but not when it’s intended to mislead the buyer. If you want to write a thriller, do it with pride. Don’t drop in a pointless love interest and call it a romance.
6. Spam: Thou shalt not take over a hashtag or any other form of social media. Of course you want to sell some books, but when you blast the same message a dozen times in ten minutes, you’re out of control. Don’t look at me like that. It happens. Remember, spam gets you blocked, not bought!
7. Sloth: Thou shalt write. Not talk about writing, not dream about writing, but put pen to paper, fingers to keys, mouth to microphone and just flipping do it.
8. Simulation: Thou shalt not try to write like other writers. Being a fan of a great author is one thing, but making a point-by-point study of their work so you can become a copycat is another.
9. Spoilers: Thou shalt not give away plots, thy own or a fellow writer’s. The midpoint twist should never be in a cover blurb, or in a book review. Respect readers and don’t sabotage your peer’s work. It gets you noticed, but for all the wrong reasons.
10. Scrap the crap: Thou shalt only write books with plots, stakes and characters that change!
Of course no two people have same top ten writer sins, but these are the ones that hit my ignition button. Also, if you pay attention to reader’s reviews, many of these same sins repeatedly crop in bad reviews. The good part about seeing readers vocalize the same complaints, regardless of genre or demographics, is it means the writer sins are preventable.
Robin trained as a professional historian and worked as a museum curator, an educator and historical consultant. She writes dark young adult fiction, with diverse characters. She's currently querying a novel, and working on two new manuscripts that started off as NaNoWriMo projects. You can follow her on Facebook(https://www.facebook.com/robin.rivera.90813) or on Twitter @robinrwrites. However, Pinterest (https://www.pinterest.com/RRWrites/) is where her inner magpie is happiest of all.
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