Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Joseph FInder's Top 14 mistakes of Best Selling Authors

1) Passive Hero

2) Stick Figure Hero--weak characterization--cliche' characters

3) Overwriting--trying to be too literary

4) Messing up POV- Finder's advice is one POV/scene--un-less, you are brilliant and can be the exception.

5) Overuse of Prologue--He advises trying to avoid prologues.

6) Long Windup--taking too long to get the story started.

7) Weak 2nd act= Sagging middle-- to avoid this escalate conflict. Hero needs to fail, recommit, and try harder. Here's where you introduce the subplot. Raise the stakes. Complicate the story.

8) All plot with no people=BAD- the best books--even thrillers, are about PEOPLE. Human characters readers can identify with. Readers don't care about the survival of the world . . . just the people.

9) Too Much Action-- In a book, car chases are deadly--works in movies, but in a book action without emotion is boring. And give the reader some variety. After a long action sequence, let the reader breathe. We need to rest to appreciate the action.

10) Predictability- Do NOT underestimate the reader. Do not be cliche'. Avoid predictability.

11) Backstory Dump--filter it in sparingly in bits and pieces throughout the story.

12) Lousy Ending- Don't let the book peter out. Don't give endless explanation to "wrap up" the loose ends. Surprise the reader--but play fair; it has to make sense. Harlan Coban has great endings.

13) Showing off Research--DON'T do it. You need to research FAR more than you include. Just include the tip of the iceberg--the least amount you can get away with. Don't show off. Exceptions are Tom Clancy, 'cause, well, he's Tom Clancy and it's expected. Use research for revelation and surprise elements.

14) Overly Explicit Dialogue- write natural dialogue

Sound advice, I thought. Now don't do it! Though . . . I was tempted to bemoan the point that they DID do it and not only got published, but made it to the best seller's list. But we're aiming for perfection, right? RIGHT!


Donnell said...

Right T! Maybe they're trying to teach us not to make the same mistakes :)

Donnell said...

Lois, thanks for this great article. I can almost here your New Jersey accent as I read it. Priceless. My DH wouldn't know multi-tasking if it hit him in the forehead, and I can definitely relate to the peeing scene over the fire :)

Donnell said...

Whoops, on laptop, without mouse... am dangerous