8. The Seven Deadly Perils of Style

Page 1 of 10 | Derivative Plots | Grammar and Usage | Viewpoint Wobbles | Viewpoint Transitions | Said-bookisms |
| AWAKS and Infodumps | Xblmrph | Out of Character | Bad Science | Taking Liberties |

There are a lot of pitfalls in writing, and any one of them can prevent your reader—and you—from fully enjoying your story. Here's a list of some of the most important ones. We've already touched on a few of them, such as . . .

Clichéd or Derivative Plot Lines
star cityWell, okay, you got me—this isn't really about style, but it's so important I'm listing it here anyway. It's about originality.

Does your story remind you of last month's Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or maybe a certain film about a young man with a light saber, pitted with his motley group of friends against an empire? If so, it might be time for some deeper thinking.

Look carefully at what you've written, or planned to write, and ask yourself if there are ways you can make it more original, more interesting, more unexpected to the reader. I don't mean gimmicks, but rather, new ideas, new insights, new twists on old thoughts. If you're taking an old idea (nothing wrong with that, by the way), are you just retreading it—or are you finding a new way to look at it, or a way to stand it on its head and startle the reader? (What if the emperor isn't evil, after all, but is a good man trapped by harsh circumstances? What if the rebel alliance is not as squeaky clean as they first appear?)

This is one more place where your reading will stand you in good stead. The more you know the work others have done, the less chance there'll be that you'll unwittingly write something that seems old hat. Plus, then you'll have more stimulation to come up with new ideas.


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