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As a new writer, it is often easy to get caught up in the excitement of the business. You hold up that shiny new piece of writing and can’t wait to share it with the world. You research everything you can about writing and plan the most effective way to get your work into the hands of the public.

This is great, and writers should get excited about what they are doing. The problem comes when the writer gets so excited that they forget to become their own critic.

Here are five mistakes that new writers often make.

Telling, Not Showing

This is arguably the most important advice any novelist will receive. You never want to simply tell a story. Telling is boring. An author often makes the mistake of “telling” because they understand their characters so well. They know the scenes and how the characters react in certain situations. The reader does not know this.

Showing comes from the characters themselves. The story is told through their eyes and ears. This is what truly makes a reader fall in love with your story. Don’t just tell them that your character is scared. Show them how the character is scared.

Not Reading

Every good writer is a good reader. It sounds odd, but it is true. Reading is much more important than one might think. It helps you know what is popular or trending for the market in which you are writing. It lets you know what stories are not being published, and gives you an idea of which stories will then take more effort to get publishers to consider. Best of all, reading helps you learn how to write. Pay attention to how other authors start their stories and end their stories. Look at the words they use and how they phrase things. These can be used as learning tools to help you discover your own way of creating words that matter.


We all have one author that we admire. They are the person we hope to someday be. We look at their words and aspire to be able to create that same magic ourselves. As much as you admire that author, remember not to imitate them. Imitation might be considered flattery in some professions, but in the writing world imitation can be considered a form of plagiarism. Every author should have their own unique voice. Maybe you don’t know what yours is yet, and that’s fine. If you keep writing and experimenting, you will find it.

Submitting Too Soon

In the excitement of finishing a new novel, some writers send out their story way too soon. Step away for a while and let your piece rest. Go back later and take another look at it. Find a critique partner or a beta reader to give you some pointers. Never jump the gun and send your work out when it isn’t ready. If you do, the chances of rejection are higher. This isn’t because the piece is necessarily bad. Maybe it just needs more details and some reworking. Take the time to make your story the best it can be before you submit.

Giving Up!

Getting published is not an easy task. For some authors it can take years to get published. Don’t be surprised when you get a stack of rejections in the mail. It’s the nature of the business. Rejections are hard to handle, but look at them as a learning experience. Keep writing. Keep believing in your ability to tell a story people want to read. Most of all, don’t give up.

(This a guest post by Mary Ellen Quigley. Mary is a paranormal romance author from Indiana, who got the writing bug as a child in the fifth grade. She started writing her first novel “Nocturne” in 2006, which is yet to be released. In 2009, Mary began writing “The Wild Side”  which was released in the summer of 2011. You can read more of her posts on her blog.)

(Image courtesy: Avolore from

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