1) All Characters Speaking and Acting the Same.
To be a good author you have to be able to put yourself in other people’s shoes—people who think differently than you do and then you need to be able to portray that in writing. If you don’t think you can do that off the cuff, study people around you. Borrow some of their personality traits to use in characters. I’m not saying make exact duplicates of people. Some people would be very angry to find out you based such and such character on them—I mean, mad enough to sue. But it’s perfectly fine to cut and paste personality traits to create a wholly unique character. Just make sure you’re consistent with that character throughout the book.
2) Character’s Emotions Don’t Match the Situation.
3) Failing to Forshadow
4) Failing to do Enough Research
5) Over Describing
“Hello, ladies.” Dr. Bloomberg smiled as he lumbered through the door. He looked at the patient. “Well, well, you weren’t kidding when you said she was about to deliver.”
That was the extent of my description of this character. Using the word lumber instead of walk, lets the reader know he was a hefty man, calling the women ladies, implied that he was older, and having him smile made him seem like a happy, jolly man. Walla, describing through action!
6) Reluctance to Heed Beta Readers and Editors
7) Starting a Novel with Back-story
So, you might ask, how do you let people know the setting, characters, and back-story? Answer: You weave it in through the action and dialog as the story unfolds. But be careful with trying to insert back-story into the dialog. You don’t want to fall into the “as you know, Bob…” trap—where the characters are saying things for the sole reason of giving the reader information. Never have characters tell each other things they already know! I mean, who does that in real life?
8) Unfilled Plot holes
Here’s an example of a plot hole that was missed by millions of raving fans of The Karate Kid movie. The final scene has an extremely dramatic sparing scene where the main character—despite an injury—defeats his nemesis by delivering an expert kick to his face. But, if you rewind back, the referee clearly states that strikes to the face are not allowed. According to the rules, the kick that won the fight should not have counted, hence, the main character should have been defeated.
That example also proves something. Even the best books and stories may have undiscovered plot holes. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be on the lookout for them and fill every one we find.
9) Understand that all rules can and sometimes should be broken!