Beginners on CC

Common mistakes before posting your stories.

Whitechief
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I recall how dumb and misinformed I was when I first posted a story on cc, without a care for the grammar, or the syntax, not to mention the glaring spelling mistakes. My sentence structures were awkward, and I had no clue about the POVs. And yet I thought I'd done a great job worthy of applause.

When the first crits started coming, I wanted to hide in a hole somewhere.

It was silly of me to have posted a story without doing some homework. That is the most common feature one would encounter in the Newbies, and sometimes at other places also.

Even after doing my homework religiously, I'm still learning a lot from some of the most versatile writers and authors here on cc, who can tell a lot more about good writing than the best schools in the country will.

Here are a few suggestions for those who wish to benefit from what cc has to offer.

 

  1. Read as much as you can about good writing before posting your work. There's plenty of information available on the internet to do your homework.
  2. Stick to a reasonable size of around 2000/2500 words. Most people will not look at long submissions.
  3. Avoid huge paragraphs in succession and irrelevant backstories. (We see a lot of these in recent submissions). There is too much of Infodump.
  4. Show more and tell less. (I learned it the hard way).
  5. Use the active voice, which is much preferred these days.
  6. Cut, cut, and cut again until you retain the juice of a story. The rest is excess baggage for which one pays by losing readership.
  7. Be economical with words. Small is always better.
  8. Use simple language.
  9. Write to entertain or engage a reader, not to burden her with your philosophy or vocabulary.
  10. Do not feel upset about negative reviews. They are a lot more helpful than false applause.

Having said that I've no hesitation in admitting that I'm still learning, and struggling to do better. And let me tell you, there's no place better than cc to polish your craft.

10 Comments

Justwords

Hi,

Excellent suggestions. Thanks a lot!

Best regards,
Justwords

Feb-25 at 10:13

Amichelle

These are good suggestions if you don't want to get roasted alive by CCers. But beginners also need to be careful not to thwart creativity by hemming themselves in too much. Writing rules and style dictates from strangers on the internet cab do a lot of harm to new writers.

Feb-25 at 20:15   3

Edolan

Great suggestions for beginners! However, there is such a thing as cutting too much… When you start to lose the voice and flair of the story, its time to hit the undo button!

Feb-26 at 04:34   2

Ronoz

I recall hearing an interview many years ago on H G Wells' works which noted that he preferred the use short sentences to increase the number of verbs that would otherwise be the case in longer sentences. We could all learn from that. ;)

Feb-26 at 06:49

Writerman6

I would amend suggestion number one–don't so much READ ABOUT good writing as just READ good writing. Other than THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE I don't think I've ever read any books of that type that were worth much. Perhaps the most helpful was from Stephen King–and the gist of what he said was JUST WRITE. Make no excuses, write every day even if you think it's garbage. Other than that, you'll learn a hell of a lot more about how to write by reading Steinbeck, Twain, Joyce, Tolkien, Hawthorn, Malamud, Tolstoy, Salinger, Heinlein, Asimov, and yes, King than by reading "how to" books. Be a shameless thief. Steal all the good things from them that you can (no, I'm NOT talking plagiarism–I'm talking style, voice, technique, word use, structure, nuance, tone, etc.) and assimilate them into your own writing to make it better.

If you are any good, you may reach a point in your writing where you–and definitely your readers–will know if you've reached that point–when you can creatively break them. But you better be damned careful and justifiably sure of yourself before you do that.

So like King says, just write. And the rules above are a great place to start!

Feb-26 at 12:52   3

Kovacs

Good info

Feb-26 at 20:51

Attaree

Along with writing, read this: Consider This by Chuck Palahniuk.

Now that I've accepted rejection, I feel much better.

Feb-27 at 01:12

Dale Stromberg

One more mistake for newbies to avoid when posting:

1. Post a story.
2. Not critique anybody else's writing.
3. Expect people to critique your writing.

On CC, you get about as much as you give.

Mar-02 at 14:10   7

Dhsparks

I did all these things, especially writing with a passive voice and long paragraphs, and using big words. I'm at a happy medium now, I have even left in a few adverbs to keep things real. I agree with Stromberg, you get about as much as you give here on CC. As a Newbie don't be afraid to crit. You can always crit as a reader which is what I do as a novice writer. It's about being a team. You work for me, I'll work for you. You give me your best, I'll give you my best… and so on.

Mar-07 at 18:40   2

Fairydust

Thanks for the advice.

Mar-24 at 23:03
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