Monday, June 15, 2009

Watch for These Weaknesses

The finalists for the critique group contest have been selected. However, this wasn’t an easy task and choosing three from the six will be even harder. All entrants had some strengths and some weaknesses. As much as I’d like to, I don’t have time to critique everyone’s work. Instead, I’ll list the basic weak points in the entries. Maybe if people know what to look for, they can learn those aspects of the craft and grow greater writing skills. I hope this will help.

Show don’t tell
Overuse of words (especially “it” and “that”)
Repeaters (nouns and verbs)
Action/reaction (the action must come before the reaction, not the other way around)
Hidden dialogue
Overuse of dialogue tags or lack of tags
Unrealistic dialogue
POV slips
Huh? moments (where I didn’t understand something because the writing wasn’t clear enough)
Run-on sentences
Weak verbs (ending in “ing” instead of “ed” for example)
Bad grammar
Story doesn’t move forward
Description dump
Choreography doesn’t make sense
Not in Deep POV

Even if you didn’t enter the contest, you might want to watch for these weaknesses in your own writing. What’s your weakness?


  1. One of my biggies, over use of the words JUST and SO. I had just almost 600 times in Surviving until this weekend. I run each chapter through Wordle and check for over used words. I'm down to 100 JUSTs now. I'll work on getting rid of more, if needs be. Now on to SO.

    Thanks for the great contest. I had fun.

  2. All of the above? LOL.

    My greatest weaknesses has to be telling more than showing, and mixing up my past and present tenses. At least, I THINK those are my two greatest weaknesses.

    The rest just happen in various degrees of appearance, but they always do show. =)

  3. This is a fantastic list! I think I'm gonna have to link.

    I have a problem with that, although I do manage to get most of them out. I flippin' hate that word.

  4. I think this point...
    Action/reaction (the action must come before the reaction, not the other way around) a really interesting one and I shall be examining my writing with this in mind. Thanks!

    Kat :-)

  5. Sarah: Glad you had fun with the contest. I used to love JUST, too. Now, I'm down to IT and THAT... I think.

    Isobael: Knowing what your weaknesses are is key to fixing 'em. ;)

    JKB: Yeah, why do we feel so compelled to use THAT anyway?

    KatW: One thing to note about action/reaction is this also translates to dialogue. You can't know if the person will whisper, shout or use a certain tone of voice until AFTER they've spoken. For example: He whispered, "You're beautiful." That's not correct. It should be: "You're beautiful," he whispered.

  6. I'll be looking for all of these weaknesses on my next edit. I'm definitely guilty of several.

    I find I have to trim a lot of descriptive dumps from my first drafts.

  7. Great tips! I had fun with the contest!

  8. Great list!

    So have the finalists been notified??? I haven't gotten an email, so I'd just like to know if I'm out of the running or not!!

  9. Strange Fiction: Isn't editing fun?

    Lazy Writer: Glad you enjoyed the contest. There's another one for everyone coming up.

    Stephanie: Yes, the finalists have been notified.

    Lynnette Labelle

  10. What do you mean by "not in deep POV"?

  11. I'm bad with using weak verbs and with repeating. Thanks for compiling the list. It will come in handy when I edit.

    In Quest of Theta Magic

  12. Ruth: I'll post something about Deep POV in the next few days.

    Lynnette Labelle

  13. Right now I am trying to fix my dialogue tag problem. I am sure I have a lot of things to fix, but this is the one bugging me the most.

  14. Great list!

    Weakness? I'm not horrible grammatically, but I know I do need to keep conscious about my grammar. I also let some threads in the story drop. But that's what revisions are for. :D