Never Do This

I keep a running list of things that I keep to remind myself never to do them in a book. Here is the list.


Write a Fiction novel about myself disguised thinly. Middle-aged housewives do not have romantic adventures.

Write novel about novelists, publishers, or anyone in the writing business. It’s pandering or bragging.

Begin with how drab people’s lives are

Begin in an awful situation that isn’t exciting and doesn’t move the story along.

Spend too much time with discussion and explanation at the beginning. Give them SOME action or even a little plot!

Write a plot line where the heroine saves the hero from himself. It’s overdone, oversmug and under-realistic.

Write people who behave outside their age. A 30-something with a 20-something lifestyle and 20 something mindset isn’t dashing. It makes them look developmentally delayed.

Start the book with a long boring history of people who arent real and the reader hasn’t had time to care about yet

Make too many plot twists. It should be exciting, not dizzying.


Phrases to avoid:

Twin, dark pools

Eyes like the ocean before a storm (overused)

being “undone” unless writing about Regency England or Hairstylists

All eloquent description of kissing, lovemaking, or intimacy. It always sounds corny and embarrassing.

  • Examples: “Taking his tongue and giving him hers in return”, “Tender sweep of his tongue”

Absolutely anything about claiming unless it has to do with coats or dry-cleaning


This list is by no means complete. If you have any wonderful “bad writing avoidance” suggestions, I’d love to hear them!

Categories: Writing | Tags: , , , , , , | 8 Comments

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8 thoughts on “Never Do This

  1. I roll my eyes at the overly usage of the “adrenaline rush sending shivers down her belly”. First of all adrenaline is released only as a rush, otherwise we don’t feel the “side-effects” of it. The logical (and physical) effect of an adrenaline rush is a warmth spread throughout one’s body, and not cold, shiver or chill (which pretty much means the same).
    Also, the hero’s calloused palms giving pleasure… right…it’s scratchy for crying out loud!

    • Iagree! Another I forgot was when characters dig their fingernails into their hands when stressed. Does anybody really do that? I think that is an important thing to ask about your characters.

  2. LOL! Thanks for this list.

  3. Kate, it’s good to remember to look in our literary mirrors before heading out the door (publishing). However…no matter how carefully we dress we’ll always forget to do something, like tuck in our blouse, and those who notice it will be right to. Still, readers will like us–we can’t be perfect but must try.

    Phrase to avoid: she dropped her eyes (someone else noticed this, but it’s influenced me)
    Never: write a ficttion novel about someone you know, disguised thinly.

    There’s many more. May there evil spawn be…deleted.

  4. Pingback: Things I Learn From Reviewing Your Books « Kate Policani

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