Hi, I'm Ray Evans. I'm a certified copyeditor and proofreader.
Back to Blog
Are You Committing Any of These Sins??
Having worked as a proofreading and copyeditor I read hundreds of books a year.
Over time, I have notice patterns in the writings of the authors that I've work with that released best-sellers and those that struggled to sell.
None of these are set in stone, as I'm not a great lapidarist(yet), but these tips are based off what I've seen the most successful writer I've worked with have avoided doing so you can do the same
1) Starting a book with the Weather
Do not start a book with the weather. If it's just to set the mood and not to show how a character feels about the weather, you don't want to say too much. The reader will probably look ahead for people.
The exception to this is if you're book is about the weather or your protagonist is a meteorologist.
2) Using Words to say "said" that aren't "said"
Use "said" and nothing else to show dialogue. The character says the line of dialogue; the verb is the writer poking his nose in. But "said" is much less rude than "mumbled," "gasped," "warned," and "lied."
3) Use Exclamation Points Sparingly
Keep the exclamation points in check: no more than two or three per 100,000 words of text are permitted(if you're writing prose). If you're feeling experimental then feel free to use them more often, but proceed with caution; exclamation points are like condiments, use them sparingly to accentuation the entree.
4) No Prologues
As you know, a prologue provides background information for the reader. It can introduce incidents in the past that are important to the current story.
A novel's prologue is its backstory, and it can be placed anywhere. There is a prologue in John Steinbeck's Sweet Thursday, but it's OK because a character in the novel explains the significance of my guidelines. He says: "I appreciate a lot of dialogue in a novel, but I dislike it when the author describes the speaker's appearance. I want to determine his appearance based on how he speaks."
What to do instead of a prologue?
Have characters use dialogue for exposition.