I got caught up a bit more at work today. Good thing.
I've been thinking about common mistakes writers make and thought I'd address a few of those. (For those of you who read Pub Rants, yes, I'm unabashadly copying her, but this is genuinely what's on my mind.)
1) Stick to the story question(s). If you want to go of on a rant, fight the urge if that rant does not further the story. Description for description's sake does not work. It is boring, and you will lose your reader, as well as the interest of your editor. I want conflict, and I want it now, and I want to feel like I'm moving toward resolution.
2) Do not include the first description that comes to mind unless it is brilliant. Chances are, your best descriptions will take time. I've sat in front of my computer for five minutes trying to think of a way to describe a character's nose (and whether it was even worth describing). I ended up going with strawberry seeds. Stop being cliche. There are many great resources out there that discuss description, where it belongs and doesn't, etc. I'll stop there.
3) Learn the basics and copy edit your material. Don't send an agent or an editor anything less than your best work. If you're not good at syntax, have a friend who is read over your MS before you send it out (lest your work be thrown away). I'm in a different boat, as those MSS that come across my desk are contracted. But when I see five errors on page one, I cringe. Do I really have to trudge through this?
--As a side note, this may sound harsh, but I assure you: New York is harsher. And I am not even close to New York.
4) Work with your editor. When I make comments, heed them...and probably employ them. Your editor knows her stuff. She is not perfect, but she has been studying the craft since she was eighteen. She knows story and has good ideas for you. She also cares about your work.