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For Writers - How to Not Write a Bad Novel (or, How to Avoid Looking Like an Amateur Writer)

I found a romance novel in my bedside table drawer written by a woman who consistently receives good reviews (I found at least 10 novels by her on Amazon, all with 4+ stars). So I assumed this particular novel would be really good.
Well, the story line was pretty good/believable and there was plenty of conflict: Highland laird who distrusts women. English woman who needs protection.
So far so good. However, upon reading it I struggled through so many flaws (which screamed "amateur") that I decided to post this brief article in hopes of guiding other writers in not making these same horrendous mistakes, because now I've crossed this author's name off my shopping list. Keep in mind, I'm not an expert, but I am an avid reader with a big opinion.
  1. Extreme Head-Hopping POV - In some scenes, the POV flipped from head to head to head and back again. It becomes so confusing to keep up with whose head the reader is in when there are more than 2 characters in a scene. Plus it's just plain annoying.
  2. Going into Minor Character's Heads POV - Do I really care what the maid thinks if it's not that vital to the plot/story? All it does is distract.
  3. Dumping Research on the Reader - This particular author made the research sound like copy and paste from a reference book (for example, "In 1305 the river flooded"). It pulls the reader out of the story and frankly I rolled my eyes. Who talks like that?
  4. Having a Character Ask How Things Work - This book was full of these. The character would ask "How does that work?" so that the author can dump more research on the poor reader. Of course the facts are interesting but save those for your blog/website and not your novel. Another eye-roll.
  5. Using the Same "Big" Word or Phrase in the Same Paragraph - This shows a lack of editing skills IMO. If I read "bizarre" in one sentence and then it appears again in the next sentence (without a valid reason) then I'm going to assume you didn't spend enough time self-editing. Then I'm going to think the publisher was in too big a hurry to edit it either. The first time it happens, I can forgive. But in this particular book, it happened again and again, especially towards the end giving the impression they were rushing to finish the book.
  6. Unbelievable Solution to Conflict - In this book, the villain has been pursuing the heroine for ill reasons and is a violent, temperamental man. So it's extremely unbelievable that he would simply go away in the end without a fight because the hero uses the name "Robert the Bruce" to intimidate him.

I hope these little pointers will help your writing be stronger and not allow the reader so many eye rolls. ;-)