Tuesday, July 7, 2009


Someone asked me to put together a little advice for new writers. I've been doing some freelance editing, so I decided to address the problems I see on a regular basis.

There are so many how-to books out there. We've all read them. Turned down corners, highlighted important stuff. Read the books more than once and committed some of it to memory. And yet again and again I see writers making the same avoidable mistakes.

*Failure to establish character goal and motivation right out of the gate. This is very basic story structure, and yet it's often ignored.

*Failure to set up conflict in opening pages, failure to stick to the conflict, failure to ride it through to end.

It's not enough to have interesting characters, amazing descriptions, beautiful prose. Give your story a strong foundation and let reader know protagonist's goals and obstacles within the first few pages. I'm not saying this is the only way to write a book, but adhering to traditional structure will increase your odds of selling.


  1. Good advice, Anne. Failure to establish character goals, motivation, and conflict early in the story will lead the reader to two things, bored and confused. This is the reason many readers will toss a book after only a couple of chapters and say, "who cares?"

  2. hi jeff! good to see you! :)