Since I’m not officially published yet, I certainly do not think it would be appropriate for me to tell you how to increase your chances of publication. As a reader, however, I believe I am qualified to point out a few tricks that various authors used to capture my attention and draw me deeper into their worlds. Unfortunately, none of them will be appearing in this post. “What? Wait…” you say “I thought these were tips for improving my readers’ experience.” They are! Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you a list of literary blunders I’ve come across in otherwise decent books.

Tip #1

Be sure to use redundant phrases when you want your readers to fully grasp the meaning of something. If possible, use words that many of your readers will need to look up. This will reinforce your point.

  • “it was the most stupidest thing he ever did”
  • “the hateful, malevolent, spiteful, pernicious gleam in her eye”
  • “the pulchritudinous ripples of her beauteous dress oscillated in time with her lovely, vacillating hips whilst her comely eyes batted gorgeously”

Tip #2

A good action scene is as mentally exhausting to the reader as it is physically exhausting to the characters involved. To prevent this, interrupt the scene with peace, love, and happiness. 

  • The werewolf dug its claws into the earth and charged, tearing across the ground at an impossible speed. Its eyes burned red, boring deep into Conlan’s soul. Blood from its last victim streamed from its mouth and down its throat. Conlan raised his sword as the creature leapt, closed his eyes, and mustered every ounce of positive energy he possessed. He hummed the chorus of My Favorite Things and imagined himself cuddling the Ugly Duckling, comforting it with sweet reassurances that it would someday grow into a swan. When he finished his quiet meditation he opened his eyes. He slashed his sword through the monsters neck with a single, lightning-quick motion, stopping it mid-leap. He exhaled a deep sigh of relief as the head rolled off the werewolf’s shoulders and bounced into a nearby thicket a split second before the body fell lifelessly to the ground, spurting blood in every direction.

Tip #3

If you’re writing a particularly complicated action scene involving several POV characters, be sure to shift POV’s mid-paragraph from time to time.

  • Beau stabbed the soldier before launching himself into a backflip over the heads of the men rushing him from behind. As he landed he pulled two knives from his belt and threw them into the soldiers’ backs. Then she whirled away from the Duke, his sword narrowly missing her shoulder as he slashed downwards with both arms. She curled her fingers and snapped them open, revealing six poison darts. She threw them expertly at the Duke, but they bounced uselessly off his magic force field. Then he turned to see Belle facing the Duke alone. She saw him running to her side, slicing down soldiers as they got in his way.

Tip #4

A good story grabs its readers from the get-go, so it’s okay to relax your editing more and more as you near the end of the book.

  • Once upon a time there was a lovely young maiden who longed for romance. She put on an alluring dress, lots of make-up, and about a gallon of pheromone-laced perfume. With these preparations complete, she set about flaunting herself shamelessly at every gala in town. She giggled and fllirted, but none of the men fawning over her struck her fancy. She felt they were all after her for her psical beauty, but she wanted something more, something deeper Then one day she met a young man whose arms bulged under his desngier suit and whose washboard abbs showed plainly threw his silk shirt. He quoted, “Romeo and Juliet,” to her and they were married because she finally found a man who aprecciated herforher mind and not just her supper-modle bidy.

Tip #5

We readers just love it when authors keep things fresh, so try mixing up your main character’s name a bit by changing the spelling from time to time. A similar trick is to give two similar characters similar names.

  • Dianne, Diane
  • Rebecca, Rebekah
  • Mike, Mick
  • McClain, McLane


Readers, especially speculative fiction readers, often use books to escape from the real world for a little while. We don’t like ugly things, so make all of your characters hotties. (Exceptions may be made for wicked minions, but not for the true villains.) If you want a more real-world feel to your book, it’s acceptable for the men to be unattractive, but never women.

  • Laquisha pursed her delicate lips. Someone else might have looked silly, but she was adorable. Lawrence’s 32 inch biceps didn’t strain a bit as he lifted her into his embrace.
  • Miranda tripped and fell in the gutter. When she stood up, she noticed Melvin and blushed. He closed the distance between them. She had to lift her chin until her neck ached to keep them in her vision, but what she saw  in his baby blue eyes captivated her. “No amount of mud could ever hide your beauty,” he called down to her. It was true.  Someone else might have looked silly, but she was adorable.
  • Outside the dance hall, Nora scratched her perfectly formed bum and hacked a gigantic loogie through her plump, sensuous lips.  Someone else might have looked silly, but she was adorable. Nick sucked in his spare tire and brushed dandruff off his shoulder before offering her his arm. “Shall we go in?”

To be fair to the authors, I created my own examples (and boy! were some of them hard to come up with intentionally). Most of the books in which I found these bungles were fairly well written with the exception of one, occasionally two, of the  above problems. Nevertheless, they’re dead give-aways that the author rushed the editing process at some point. I hope any other aspiring authors reading this will, like me, take warning and avoid these mistakes. And what about you other readers? What atrocities have you come across?

To read some real writing tips from published authors, visit or follow these folks:

Rayne Hall @RayneHall

Ciara Ballintyne @CiaraBallintyne

Susanne Lakin @CSLakin

A special thanks to Rayne Hall for encouraging me to write this post.