Five Mistakes That Will Ruin Your Chances Of Selling Your Novel

Gong the traditional route in publishing? Looking for an agent or pitching directly to a publishing house?  

Any one of these dialogue errors will get your manuscript tossed in the recycle bin, particularly if you commit them in the first few paragraphs. Here they are, in no particular order.

1. Using, "...she thought to herself...." as a dialogue tag. Seriously, who else are you going to think to? Unless you're doing SF and have already established some telepathy powers, just go with, "thought."  Better yet, create the right point of view distance and simply put it in italics or use some other convention. God gave you fonts for a reason, people. Use them.

2. Having your character look in a mirror or still pond and seeing a reflection in order to get character description in.

3. Including in your query letter on your nove any of the following phrases:

     a. It's based on my life.

     b. This really happened.

     c. My family and friends really love this story.

4. Overusing adjectives in dialogue tags, e.g. he said loudly, he said convincingly.  Simillarly, being oh so clever with your dialogue tags, e.g. he sighed, he whined, he expounded, he explained, he simpered. Just use said. Seriously. If you have to tag it at all. Eighty percent of the time, the reader should just know because of the flow of the dialogue and because of the voices of the characters. Weird dialogue tags evince a lack of confidence in your ability to create character voices. 

5. Starting with the weather or scenery. Not a fatal flaw if you're exceptionally skillful, but generally a waste of valuable real estate. You've got about ten seconds to capture your editor/agent/reader's attention.

That's my list. What's on yours?

 

 

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