How to Kill a Story in 16 Easy Steps
Step 1: Start the story too early.
Step 2: Take too long to set up the story and introduce the central question.
Step 3: Add too much back story.
Step 4: Have an unclear central question (i.e., the reader isn’t sure what the story is about).
Step 5: Tell the story with narrative instead of showing it with action and dialogue.
Step 6: Have no turning points (i.e., the story moves from one scene to another in a straight line).
Step 7: Continue on too long after the climax.
Step 8: Have an undeveloped character with unclear (or no) motivation.
Step 9: Tell character traits, tell character feelings, tell setting (instead of showing).
Step 10: Make sure the character is not active in moving the story forward, is not instrumental in solving the problem, and does not grow or change by the end.
Step 11: Switch points of view.
Step 12: Add too much interior monologue.
Step 13: Add unnecessary words, sentences, paragraphs, scenes, characters.
Step 14: Repeat yourself.
Step 15: Explain yourself.
Step 16: Use too many dialogue tags, tags that explain (e.g., he apologized), tags that don’t denote speech (e.g., she sighed; he smiled), or tags with –ly adverbs (e.g., she said reluctantly).
Recycled from 11/6/2007