12 Common Fiction Writing Mistakes

Are you making any fiction writing mistakes? It doesn’t matter if you are brand new to writing or a professional, there are many writing mistakes that all writers should know. In this post, we will discuss twelve common writing mistakes.

The following list is in no particular order, but here we go…

1. Info dumping

Info-dumping is the act of providing a large amount of information all at once, usually at the start of a story. This can be overwhelming for the reader and can make the story feel slow and boring.

To avoid this mistake, writers should spread out the information throughout the story, and reveal it in a way that is natural and interesting. They should also be mindful of the amount of information they include, and should only include enough to have the story make sense.

2. Telling instead of showing

When writing fiction, it is important to “show” the reader what is happening rather than “tell” them. Telling the reader how a character feels or what is happening instead of showing it through their actions and dialogue can make the story feel flat.

This means using descriptive language and actions to paint a picture for the reader, rather than stating what is happening or how a character feels. For example, instead of saying “she was angry,” you could describe her clenched jaw, the heat rising in her cheeks, and the sharp tone of her voice. This allows the reader to experience the emotion themselves and become more invested in the story.

Additionally, “showing” can also reveal character development and plot points, making the story more dynamic and engaging. It’s a good practice to focus on writing actions and dialogue rather than thoughts, emotions, and backstory. It allows the readers to draw their own conclusion and engage with the story.

3. Lack of a clear point of view

Not having an obvious point of view when writing fiction can be a major mistake, as it can make the story feel confusing and disjointed to the reader. It is essential that the reader knows whose perspective the story is being told from and what their motivations and emotions are. This helps to ground the story and give it a sense of coherence.

Otherwise, the reader may struggle to understand what is happening in the story and why, which can lead to a lack of engagement and interest. It’s important for the writer to decide on the point of view early in the writing process and to maintain consistency throughout the story. This will help to create a more immersive and satisfying reading experience.

4. Lack of conflict and tension

One of the most common mistakes in fiction writing is a lack of conflict. Conflict is essential to any story as it drives the plot and creates tension and interest for the reader. Without conflict, the story can become dull and uninteresting.

To avoid this mistake, writers should ensure that there is a problem or obstacle that the protagonist must overcome. This can be an internal conflict, such as a character struggling with a personal dilemma, or an external conflict, such as a character facing an antagonist or a difficult situation.

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5. Poor character development

Another common mistake in fiction writing is creating flat, uninteresting characters. Characters are the heart of any story, and they need to be well-developed and relatable for the reader to care about them and connect with the story.

To avoid this mistake, writers should ensure that their characters have distinct personalities, motivations, and goals. Characters should also be consistent in their actions and dialogue, and they should be able to change and grow throughout the story.

6. Lack of pacing

Pacing is the rhythm of the story and it refers to the speed at which the events of the story unfold. A story with good pacing will keep the reader engaged, while a story with poor pacing will bore the reader.

To avoid this mistake, writers should vary the pace of the story by alternating between fast-paced and slow-paced scenes, and by using techniques such as cliffhangers and plot twists to keep the reader engaged.

Related Reading: Breaking Writing Rules

7. Overuse of dialogue

Another common mistake in fiction writing is overusing dialogue. While dialogue can be an effective tool to reveal character and advance the plot, too much dialogue can make the story feel cluttered and hard to follow.

To avoid this mistake, writers should ensure dialogue serves a purpose. They should also vary the length and format of the dialogue, and use action and description to add depth to the scene.

8. Overuse of adverbs and adjectives

Using too many adverbs and adjectives will make the writing feel clunky and heavy-handed and can detract from the overall quality of a story. Adverbs and adjectives are used to describe nouns and verbs, but when they are abused, they can become a distraction and your writing may seem clunky and amateurish.

9. Using cliches

Using cliches in writing fiction can be a major problem, as it can make your writing feel unoriginal and stale. Cliches are phrases or expressions that have lost their impact and meaning because they have been used so often. In fiction writing, we can find cliches in characterizations, plot lines, and dialogue.

For example, a character that is described as the “tough guy” or the “damsel in distress” is a cliche. A plot line that involves a “hero’s journey” or a “romantic comedy trope” is also cliche. In dialogue, we can find cliches as tired expressions such as “the ball is in your court” or “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” Using cliches in your fiction writing can make it harder for readers to engage with your characters and plot.

10. Head-hopping

Head-hopping is the act of shifting the point of view between characters within a scene. This can be confusing for the reader and can make it difficult to follow the story.

To avoid this mistake, writers should stick to one point of view per scene, and should clearly establish when the point of view changes. They should also be mindful of the use of pronouns and verb tenses, as these can also reveal a shift in point of view.

11. Lack of description

Description is the use of words to create a visual image of the setting, characters, and events in the story. It helps the reader to imagine the story in their mind and to understand the emotions of the characters. A story with little or no description can be dull and not engaging.

To avoid this mistake, writers should use descriptive language to create a sense of place and to show the reader what the characters are feeling. They should also use sensory details, such as sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch, to bring the story to life.

12. Not proofreading and editing

Proofreading and editing are crucial steps in the fiction writing process. They help to ensure that your story is coherent and free of errors. A good proofreading and editing process will help to catch any spelling or grammar mistakes, as well as any inconsistencies or logic errors in your story. This can include double-checking character names, ensuring that descriptions match throughout the story, and checking that your story’s timeline is consistent.

An editor can help to provide feedback on the pacing, character development, and overall structure of your story, allowing you to make any necessary revisions before publishing or submitting your work. It is important to proofread and edit multiple times, with a fresh set of eyes each time, to ensure that your story is as polished as possible.

Last Words on Fiction Writing Mistakes

In this post, we have discussed twelve common writing mistakes that have been floating around the writing space for eons. Just remember that for every writing mistake, there is a successful author who defied the rules and made mistakes that are now acclaimed. Are there any writing mistakes you make? Let me know in the comments.

Take Care



Feature image by Chen from Pixabay.



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