Here's another repeat posting from the now defunct Magic Beans Blog - because I am in the throws of editing and it's always worth remembering how NOT TO do it.
- Weak words – got, that, stuff, really, went, was, had, things
- Passive sentences – EG Instead of the burger was eaten by the child, try, the child ate the burger. Instead of the boy was chased by a cow, try, a cow chased the boy.
- Wordy writing – EG Instead of she was eating, try, she ate. Instead of he was walking slowly, try, he dawdled.
- Superfluous adverbs (he said angrily, she walked quickly from the room)
- Vague words – seem, approximately, about, appear, look as if, roughly, more or less, give or take, almost, nearly
- Indistinct nouns – for example, instead of ‘flowers’ say roses, instead of ‘dog’ say spaniel, instead of ‘car’ say Ford Fiesta
- Adjacent sentences without connective tissue
Too much show...
- Repetition of words, sentences and ideas
- Over-reliance on show or tell (either can be tedious)
- Blow by blow description of character movements
- Failure to engage all senses, and relying on facial reactions and dialogue for effect.
- Clichéd phrases, images, ideas
- Disorganisation on every level (sentence, paragraph, scene, chapter)
- Lack of clarity
- No sense of place or atmosphere
- One dimensional, clichéd or stereotypical characters
- Characters using each others names repeatedly when talking to each other
- Wooden, boring and/or irrelevant dialogue
- Reliance on dialogue to convey information to the reader
- Plot holes
- Abandoned plot threads or characters
- Coincidences that easily resolve tough situations
- Exclamation marks!!!
...or too much tell?