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Newbie mistakes

Switch Blayde

I don't remember if I ever posted this blog before, but it's good enough to do again if I had. I know many will disagree with her points, but it's worth reading. I'll list the link and topic headings here:

http://annerallen.com/2014/09/10-things-that-red-flag-newbie-novelis.html

10 Things that Red-Flag a Newbie Novelist
1) Show-offy prose
2) Head-hopping
3) Episodic storytelling
4) Info-dumps and "As you Know Bob" conversation
5) Mundane dialogue and transitional scenes that don't further the action.
6) Tom Swifties and too many dialogue tags
7) Mary Sues
8) Imprecise word usage and incorrect spelling and grammar
9) Clichéd openings
10) Wordiness

As to number 3, Episodic storytelling, I actually believe readers on SOL, wattpad, and similar sites prefer them. As a short story writer, I've learned when to end a story, but so many readers want more and more. I get feedback all the time asking for more even though the story ended. And the success of the never ending stories on SOL show those readers want that kind of story.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Ernest Bywater

You left out the very worst - - not having a plot.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
awnlee jawking

@Switch Blayde

Thanks, a good article although I don't necessarily agree with everything she wrote.

My personal bugbear is Mary Sues, which IMO proliferate on SOL, unsurprisingly since we can all pretty much consider ourselves newbies until we bother dead tree publishers.

AJ

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Ernest Bywater

You left out the very worst - - not having a plot.


Without a plot, you don't have a story (other than some artsy literary fiction that's only about the character's emotions). She isn't talking about the ingredients of a novel, like plot, character development, suspense, etc. She's talking about basic mistakes.

But in #3, she does say "I could never end it, because it didn't actually have a single plot. It was a series of related episodes, like a TV series-the old fashioned kind that didn't have a season story arc."

Switch Blayde

@awnlee jawking

although I don't necessarily agree with everything she wrote.


You're welcome. And she did say, "These things aren't necessarily wrong."

Perv Otaku

The list seems to be advice on writing a novel, whereas "episodic storytelling" is quite suitable for a serialized story, just as it is for a television show.

I think one of the major differences typically is that for something like a novel or a movie, you come up with a plotline, a coherent one with a beginning and end, and then you write characters into that plot. For something like a television show, you come up with characters, and then you come up with stories to put them in.

Depending on the TV show, it may be all stand-alone episodes, it may be planned story arcs that last one season each and use anywhere from half to all the episodes in the season, it may be one long serialized story with varying levels of planned-ahead or making-it-up-as-they-go.

I wrote a story with three entirely episodic chapters, which was a result of "Well my main story arc is done, what else can I do with these characters?" Of course after that I was out of ideas again and it became "Now how do I end this thing?"

Something I finished up on recently and will release next year is intentionally episodic, as it is set in a superheroes-and-monster-of-the-week type genre. I play up "formulaic" for all it's worth. Of course I couldn't keep that going forever, so there's a final showdown with the big bad in the end. If I were better at coming with ideas, though, I could have stretched it out to more episodes.

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin

@Perv Otaku

And then there are the one school year at a time authors, sometimes with relatively short stories about summer vacation. Even then the school year gets broken up into episodes about different games or sports, climaxing with a championship game. Or Banadin sends his hero out to make motion pictures and avoids actual school by using tutors.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@richardshagrin

And then there are the one school year at a time authors, sometimes with relatively short stories about summer vacation. Even then the school year gets broken up into episodes about different games or sports, climaxing with a championship game. Or Banadin sends his hero out to make motion pictures and avoids actual school by using tutors.

Hell, I wrote six full volumes that only cover a couple months of time. None of my series take longer than a few months, while each book typically takes weeks to a couple months. I guess I don't like long-running stories. 'D

Part of the problem, if a story unfolds over years or--gasp--decades, it's hard to keep it on target and provide the needed consistency. Stories are more typically 'slices of life'. They don't show an entire period (say someone's college years), instead they show the period where the main character is thrown into turmoil, and follow him until he resolves the central conflict in his life.

Replies:   KimLittle
KimLittle

@Crumbly Writer

Stories are more typically 'slices of life'. They don't show an entire period (say someone's college years), instead they show the period where the main character is thrown into turmoil, and follow him until he resolves the central conflict in his life.


Yup. My designing of story-arc: Where do we join this character and where do we leave them? And then, I believe, if you have a clear idea of your character and set up your world/characters clearly, the story practically writes itself. Except for, you know, all that actual writing you have to do.

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