Writing tips

Things to avoid:

1) Unnecessary adverbs

Example: It’s unnecessary to say your company aims to do something “successfully.” Of course you aim to be successful; no one goes into business hoping to fail.

Another example: listing a series of character traits plus one detail that doesn’t fit and pointing out that it’s “incongruous.” You can delete “incongruous;” the reader should notice that it’s different on their own.

2) Vague adjectives

Phrases like “a handsome man” or “a beautiful landscape” give the reader little information. Handsome/beautiful how? These adjectives are subjective and could mean almost anything. Use specific details to illustrate exactly what you mean.

3) Redundant adjectives

You don’t need to say a “soft velvet hat.” Velvet is soft, so just the words “velvet hat” convey the same image.

4) Name-dropping as a crutch for setting

If you’re writing a book set in Cambridge, Massachusetts, you might be tempted to name some restaurants, stores, and famous universities and call it done. While this might impress the casual reader, careful readers who’ve never been to Cambridge won’t know what the city looks, feels, or sounds like. Name-dropping does not replace the harder work of creating vivid setting.

5) Name-dropping as a crutch for profundity

Various books and short stories allude to well-known literary works and authors. Sometimes they do it with a brazen title, sometimes a coy but obvious reference within the text. The name-dropper usually suffers by comparison.

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