I initially wrote a blog for this week entitled “Life and Writing in the Time of Coronavirus.” My husband suggested it. However, when I gave him my article to read, he felt it was too negative. Since we are living in the epicenter of the virus across the GWB from
, this may be true. I don’t want to
depress my fellow writers. So instead my new blog is about fixing fiction
Those of us who write fiction are always looking for ways to improve the quality of our work. I ran across an interesting piece I’ll share with you. According to an article written by James Scott Bell that appeared in a WRITER’S DIGEST newsletter, there are five main fiction writing mistakes that should be avoided. They are as follows:
1. Presenting perfectly happy, nice characters in the beginning scenes. It’s
’s contention that the reader should be engaged
from the first in the plot via trouble, threat, change or challenge to the key
character(s). In other words, a strong narrative hook is needed to grip the
2. “The best novels, the ones that stay with you all the way to the end—and beyond—have the threat of death hanging over every scene.” This goes for romance as well as mystery and suspense. This does not mean necessarily physical death. It can be of a vocational or psychological nature.
3. Avoid what
refers to as “Marshmallow
dialogue”. By this he means dialogue that is too gushy or sweet. Good dialogue is compressed and crisp. Each
character has a different and distinctive way of speaking. Also, all dialogue
needs to have tension and complexity. Bell
4. Avoid the dull and predictable. Place something unexpected in each scene keeping the reader turning those pages wanting to know what will happen next.
5. Dig deep into your characters. Create detailed backstories for them.
My own suggestion is to know more about the characters than you will intend to use in the book itself. I like to create a “character bible” which means writing down all the details about key characters, physical and mental.
’s advice particularly useful for mystery and
thriller fiction as well as romantic suspense. What is your opinion? Bell