Today a YouTube video dropped on my channel with my 5 mistakes I’ve seen writers make and my tips for fixing them. I’ll embed that video for you at the end of this post. But I wanted to take a second to talk about my experience with these topics and maybe even give you some tips that didn’t appear on YouTube. Consider this an add-on or a bonus to the video. Thanks for being here. You rock.
#1-Reader Cannot Connect with the Main Character
This isn’t one that comes exclusively from my experience with beta reading. My first draft of Breaking Eselda had this very problem. Actually, my first draft of that book had a different title. Originally, that book was called Royal Blood and it encompassed most of the events that also fall into Redeeming Jordyn now. It was originally in third person omniscient, which can work and work well. But it didn’t work for this story. In the original first draft you didn’t connect enough with Eselda. Early beta readers actually hated her. It turned out I had a HUGE problem with allowing readers to relate to her and her struggles. Here’s a post I wrote when that first switch was happening: Point of View
I mention in the video that one way to work through this problem is to complete a fun little character survey. Here’s a blog post where I did that for Emma, the main character from Projection. Fun With Character. The questions are there, feel free to answer them for your MC!
I also mentioned writing hashtag games might be a fun way to discover characters. I’m playing a few this month on Twitter (@ShipleyTabatha). Here are those boards in case you want to play along!
#2-Dialogue Isn’t Realistic
In my experience beta reading for people this is the most common problem I see. I think some of it stems from writing “rules”. Too many authors are afraid to break those rules for dialogue. But, on the other hand, I’ve often seen writers use a brand of “regional dialect” in writing that just doesn’t work.
The advice I offered in my video is truly my favorite but if you still want a little more help with dialogue I highly recommend this book: Write Awesome Dialogue
This is one that I don’t often fall victim to. If anything, I do the opposite. I tend to leave a lot to the imagination and let you draw your own conclusions. But I have been known to do this in the past.
One thing I didn’t mention in the video (because you’ve probably heard it before) also happens to be my favorite advice that I’ve heard over and over again.
#4-Telling (instead of Showing)
I don’t have much more in the way of advice to give on this (the video covers it all) but I thought I’d drop in the first page of my Magical YA which was recently critiqued on another author (who I look to as a mentor, basically) Facebook page. You’ll notice I’ve highlighted the details I used in yellow, just as I advised. This makes it pretty obvious (at least to me) that I started out this page weaker than I finished it. Now, when I look through these I’ll have to decide if any of them were intentional and important. Here’s a hint, about four of these will survive. We need to be critical with details, friends.
#5-Being a One-Man Show
I’m here to help, friends!
Here’s a link to a blog post I did with a little advice if you’re considering self publishing: Advice
Drop a comment letting me know what topics you want to see in the future (either on the blog, on YouTube, or both). Even if I can’t help–maybe someone else can! Let’s connect.
Thanks for reading. Here’s that video I kept alluding to.