Re: after lurking and reading for almost a year, here are the most common writing mistakes i see.

#21
Sigurd Wrote:
HammieTheHamster Wrote: The reason why Sigurd suggests this is because it is the fair thing to do, to base a review on the entirety of the novel, and not a tiny sample of it. By your excuse, i can just read the first word of the first chapter of your novel and base my review on it, with my only knowledge to work with being your synopsis. Not quite fair or accurate is it? Neither is writing a review on just a single chapter. A single chapter is not going to contain all the mysteries and eccentricities of a novel, that takes time to build and lay out for the readers to read.


This.

I'm not saying that the "good so far" mentality is wrong, but that's not reviewing. That's just a momentary comment with a rating. I could read the first chapter of The Fellowship of the Ring and say "it's well written slice of life with an interesting foreshadowing, 5 stars", but that wouldn't be fair to the author, who actually put the time and passion in creating it, nor that useful to other readers because I haven't really said anything. It's an extreme example but that's the idea.

I'm not a professional tho, so I could be wrong.


Could not say it better myself. 

I had done far share of review for new authors until I stopped recently due to some circumstances. The guideline of 10,000 words or 40 pages minimum to go through first before a review was introduced to help the reviewer get a better grasp of the story. Keep in mind some stories are late bloomers and some are great starter but dies a sad and lonely creative death. 

But this is not a thread for that. And for spotting common mistakes, I could highlight a few more that I see around in most of RR's stories.

1. Paragraph formatting. Either a full wall of text or one sentence paragraph the whole way.
2. The mistaken usage of similar sounding words that most likely escaped the grammar checker. E.g:-
       i. their, they're and there 
      ii. you're and your
      iii. Its and It's
      iv. Then and Than
 3. Double negative words. For example , "The MC can't barely see his foe in front of him." --> I have to admit that I too do this very mistake in my writing.

Re: after lurking and reading for almost a year, here are the most common writing mistakes i see.

#22
acederequiza Wrote: 2. The mistaken usage of similar sounding words that most likely escaped the grammar checker. E.g:-
       i. their, they're and there 
      ii. you're and your
      iii. Its and It's
      iv. Then and Than


It's sadly becoming common English, like lose and loose. It might be a side effect of not reading and writing enough, plus a widespread tolerance of bad grammar in general. I'm from Italy and despite being a very rich language Italian is suffering greatly from this, as complicated words and even entire tenses are close to disappearing.

To get back on track, I'd also like to point some common mistakes I often see, and give an extensive opinion on them. I won't talk that much about grammar, this time.

  • Commas, like all punctuation, are easily misused or overused, for example:
    When I went there, I found that everyone was waiting for me, and they had even set up a surprise party.When I went there I found that everyone was waiting for me, and they had even set up a surprise party. One less comma makes the line more fluent and gets rid of a pause that hurts the rhythm of it. It might look like a small change, but it's actually noticeable when you read it aloud, something that I bet most writers on this website don't even bother with. And of course there are people who would put the comma after found, and I won't even comment on that.


  • Characters tend to have close to no development, to be outrageously overpowered from the start, to lack any kind of weak point and personality depth.

    • Developing a character: the most popular character archetypes follow the theories of Joseph Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces. It's still one of the best and most intuitive ways to write  because we can all relate to it in a very natural way. But there are also alternatives. You can start by showing your character in a moment of his/her life (a "touchstone") and then proceed in the narration in a non-chronological order. A good example of this is the manga Berserk, by Kentaro Miura, that follows a present-past-back to the present and moving forward structure. The way most authors miss this opportunity is by creating a protagonist with no background at all that moves forward without any apparent motive, and the same happens to their antagonist and their supporting cast.

    • Power level: this is a common problem in fan fiction, novels set inside a video game and fantasy. A character starts on a set power level and overcomes various challenges by raising it. It's as simple as that, and shows a growth in the character. Many movies and novels use it to give us the feeling that any obstacle can be beaten with hard work and dedication. The tricky part is balancing the difficulty bar right.
      If the protagonist is overpowered, nothing will be difficult to him/her, so the journey won't be interesting. If the character is too weak his triumph will seem artificial, leading to the development of a plot armor, a narrative device that "shields" the character from any danger or failure just because. There are exceptions in which this problem can actually become an interesting point of reflection, like in One Punch Man, but generally all authors suffer from power level related issues at some point, even professionals. Overpowered characters are also more common.

    • Weak points and dull personality: a "perfect" character is boring. The same can be said for one that is "just good for the sake of being good" or "evil for the sake of being evil". This problem can be resolved by giving them a more "shaped" personality, revolving around a central weak point that influences their decisions. Let's take a look at Batman, what makes him an interesting protagonist? The fact that he won't kill anyone, even if it's the only way of stopping a villain. What if he had killed the Joker when he first had the chance? You get my point. There are lots of novels on this website that give us characters who kill without any remorse or just beat up any antagonist that shows up while flexing their muscles and smiling, and we can't pretend it's enough to give them some kind of appeal.



  • Stories and settings are often inconsistent, bland or just not that original.

    • Tropes, tropes, tropes: I have recently taken a look at a certain work that starts with a shut-in character who gets run over by a truck, dies and meets a godly character, who offers to reincarnate him in a RPG-like world. And no, it's not KonoSuba. There is no problem in using certain tropes, but straight up making your own version of something you like is not acceptable either. Harems with a lot of mindless girl characters are very overused, and boring. Also, I understand that lone wolves characters are cool (I use them too), but starting your novel with an entire paragraph that explains in detail how edgy your protagonist is doesn't sound good at all.

    • Crafting a world is hard: this is actually a huge point. Most people will tell you that you should set your story in a place that seems real. What does it mean? Does its geography have to be realistic? Does its society have to be described in detail? Well, yes and no. What matters is consistency.
      Let's take The Lord of the Rings as an example. Tolkien's Middle Earth has a weird shape (Mordor is literally a square!) and we don't get to see every aspect of the places mentioned in the book. When you look at the map there are plenty of locations that the story doesn't cover and that's a good thing, because it gives us a sense of wonder. As far as the society goes, how many Humans are there? How many Hobbits, or Elves? We don't know, yet there are legends, myths, traditions and languages with a full grammar. This contributes to create a sense of consistency, and that allows immersion. How can I commit to a story when I'm constantly reminded that a character shouldn't be there, or that a spell was different the last time it was used (remember how the Harry Potter movies condensed every offensive spell into Expelliarmus and its effect ranged from a slap on the hand to a tactical nuke? That breaks immersion)

    • You can't just pretend it's not boring: I know you want to skip all boring parts and always be deep in the action, but you can't. Finding ways to keep people entertained even when your characters are not busy stabbing each other is an art. And aiming for the Guinness World Record's longest description of a landscape isn't always the right way.



  • Writing takes time: last but not least, I'd like to point out probably the most common thing I found while browsing this website. Writing is art. And art can't be done by everyone. At least, not in a rush. There is a surprising amount of people who write on the fly, without any planning. Putting words on paper (or in this case, on a page) can feel rewarding and relaxing, and it can also get your attention away from all the bad things that happen everyday. But that's not what writing a novel is about, because it takes care and time and that's the most important reason behind a lot of dropped stories and supposed writer's blocks.

In conclusion, these are the mistakes I see the most. And again, the best way to get rid of them is to read your work before posting. There will always be something you could have done better, but what's important is to be aware of it and work everyday to improve. And there in my opinion lies the path that leads to a good story.

Re: after lurking and reading for almost a year, here are the most common writing mistakes i see.

#23
Hmm, think I'll direct this to the OP.

Your aversion to modern metrics system shows you're into fantasy/historical fiction. Fine, so am I. However, while it's fine to write that: "Harbend climbed the coach and after less than eight lamps he left it a few bronze shields poorer and waved the driver to continue without him.", I'd strongly advice against that if the PoV is indeed from our own modern society.

An example:

"Katenic swore and killed the stub with his feet. Two, maybe three hundred meters down the road his target hid in an apartement, and anyone dragging something as obscure as yards into the conversation would have Katenic's feet firmly planted in his mouth. Civilised people used meters. Brits drove on the left side of the road, so they could shove their damned yards right up wherever the rest of their barbaric customs belonged."

See, good old metric system making perfect sense Wink

Re: after lurking and reading for almost a year, here are the most common writing mistakes i see.

#24
StenDuring Wrote: Hmm, think I'll direct this to the OP.

Your aversion to modern metrics system shows you're into fantasy/historical fiction. Fine, so am I. However, while it's fine to write that: "Harbend climbed the coach and after less than eight lamps he left it a few bronze shields poorer and waved the driver to continue without him.", I'd strongly advice against that if the PoV is indeed from our own modern society.

An example:

"Katenic swore and killed the stub with his feet. Two, maybe three hundred meters down the road his target hid in an apartement, and anyone dragging something as obscure as yards into the conversation would have Katenic's feet firmly planted in his mouth. Civilised people used meters. Brits drove on the left side of the road, so they could shove their damned yards right up wherever the rest of their barbaric customs belonged."

See, good old metric system making perfect sense Wink


That's because we can all relate to those kinds of systems.

An effective example is what I like to call the "calendar paradox". A lot of fantasy books are set in a completely different world but they still use the common Gregorian calendar, essentially an evolution of the ancient Roman calendar. July is named after Julius Caesar and August honors the first emperor, so there's no way such a calendar could be used in a universe where Rome didn't even exist. Nonetheless, it's a lot more familiar and understandable.

Re: after lurking and reading for almost a year, here are the most common writing mistakes i see.

#25
Yep, agreed. That sucks.

I just meant it's a matter of context. You run the story with characters from 'our' world I'd exect them to think in terms from our world.

Obviously the reversal should hold true as well. In a society with sundials as the most precise time-pieces I don't want to read that "Acheles waited a few seconds before he fired his arrow." For two reasons. 'Seconds' aren't used, and you'd better be used to something veryh similar to gunpowder before you 'fire' anything.