Writing & Publishing Mistakes. What's Yours?

This Week's YA Highway Road Trip Wednesday question:

What's the biggest writing / querying / publishing mistake you've made?

Awesome question!  I'm not at the point of querying yet, though I have been working on the query to get a head start. My goal is to get everything for The MirrorMasters ready for submission by next February or March.  I've had some success so far in publishing, with a short story published online at Flash Paranormal Fiction, one being considered for an anthology, and another for a different anthology in the works. So I have no funny stories to tell yet. I'll share them when I do!

The writing? I've made lots of mistakes there. I am guilty of the dreaded infodump first chapter. I had a two-paragraph introduction to set the scene and was told that some of it used passive voice. That introduction is gone now, but it would be nice to edit and somehow find a way to work it back in. I had too many dialogue tags. There are pesky adverbs to prune from the ms, as you can tell by even a quick scan of my MirrorMasters excerpt.  In an earlier draft of that first chapter, I was once guilty of way too many exclamation points.  For all I know, there could be a thousand other mistakes littered throughout the manuscript. Once that first draft is done, I'll revise until the prose shines and is free of major--and hopefully minor--mistakes.

Thank goodness for the opportunity to find a critique partner when the time is right!

At least with practice, you learn and get better, right? I've hopefully come a long, long way since I started this journey.

I can't wait to read everyone else's writing, publishing, and querying stories!


  1. Critique partners are so wonderful for pointing out flaws we wouldn't ordinarily see ourselves.

    Good luck with your journey!

  2. Without critique partners.. well I don't even want to consider it. All first drafts have these kinds of mistakes, but as long as you finish the draft and go back to revise, thankfully they are mistakes that the whole world doesn't have to know about ;)

  3. Thank goodness we're not expected to turn out a perfect first draft. I think I do most of my work while revising. And, yeah, I'd be lost without critique partners.

  4. We had someone want to join our crit group that was a prolific writer--just not a rewriter. She never went back to work on a story. So guess what? All those mistakes you mentioned? She was still making them in book #5.

    We decided she was not compatible with our group. But I'm glad you've found someone; the right match helps both parties grow so much! Love my group.

  5. Great feedback, Alison, Sarah Tracey, and Angelica! I don't have a crit partner yet, but will be seeking one once I do some polishing and revising to get the ms in the best shape I can on my own first. Thanks for sharing all your experiences with them, how they help, and what to look out for.

  6. The people that play along with RTW are a pretty amazing group-- lots of good crit partner candidates in there, I bet! :)

  7. Luckily it seems like a lot of the writing mistakes you make are fairly cosmetic - stuff that plagues first drafts, but can be taken care of in edits, no biggie.

  8. My biggest mistake would be being a clueless noob at the beginning of my writing journey. I had a monster ms chock-full of newbie mistakes (adverbs, anyone?) and I queried too soon. Good thing I found out quick enough how crappy my first novel was and only sent 5 queries. I then took a break to do more research on the craft of writing, found a writing community, and wrote some more to find my voice and hone my skill.

    Never query when your ms is not ready--this is the advice I give to all new writers. :)

  9. Hi Lora! I enjoyed your post and it made me chuckle when I thought back to all the mistakes I've made and am likely still making.

    I knew nothing of any of the rules when I wrote my first draft. I also knew nothing of the publishing business when I finished that draft. And so I made all the typical rookie mistakes you posted about and more. I've burned, or at least charred, quite a few agent bridges by querying too early and not knowing what a good query consisted of. And though I may "know" it all now, that's not to say that I can execute any of it.

    But I keep trying. And I'm learning a lot from all my new blogger friends. I just started following you, as well. I hope I can pick up a few things from you along the way. Feel free to come on over to my place sometime. I love to give and receive comments.

  10. Those are some of my mistakes, too.

    Long ago I tried to write in another author's style. I admired the person, but realized I had to develop my own style.

  11. I attached the wrong manuscript to a request for a full.

    Should've seen me painfully wording the "retract that" email :)

  12. Kate, that's a great idea, finding a crit partner among the RTW crowd :)

    Rachel, I so hope all the mistakes in the manuscript are cosmetic and pretty much fixable during edits. Thanks for the encouragement!

    cherie, that is such great advice to never query before you're ready. I've never queried before, so it's hard to imagine how we can possibly know whether or not we're ready to query. Guess that's another great reason to have a crit partner, for feedback on it.

    Nancy, it's so true that just because we might learn something, that it'll be easy to put into practice. Here's to learning--both in knowledge and in putting what we know into practice! There's so much to learn about the publishing business. I feel like I've learned a lot in the past couple years, but there's so much more to learn. I hope you do pick up a few things from this blog, and I'll be glad to follow yours :).

    Medeia, attempting to write in another's style could be a great exercise along the way to finding your own style by learning what works and what doesn't for you. I think we all are influenced by who we read, whether or not we consciously try to emulate their styles.

    Mindy, what a story! I hope the writing of the "retract that" email went well! :)

  13. Hi, Lora. Nice to meet you. I write YA and MG. Glad I found your blog here. Your story sounds really cool and I LURVE those pics from Avatar. That movie is filled with so much eye candy. :)
    And in answer to your question here, I've made the mistake of querying my first novel before having CPs to point out what was wrong. I'm notorious for querying too early on a ms, but I figure if I can find an agent who's interested in the story, they'll be willing to offer suggestions for improvements. That works fine if you have an ms that's been revised fifteen times and been thru numerous CPs. I learned that the hard way. :)
    BTW ever watch Twin Peaks? Wasn't the girl named Laura Palmer???

  14. Hi, Pk! It's great to meet you, too :). Glad to hear you like the sound of the story. Hehe, you are so right about Avatar having lots of eye candy. I'm watching the end of it right now. What a gorgeous movie!

    Great point about querying too soon. I'd love to get the manuscript ready for querying by spring, but if it's not, it can wait until it's ready. Hopefully I'll know when it is ready. Having an editorial agent willing to help with suggestions to improve the writing and the story does sound like a great bonus.

    Oh, I never watched Twin Peaks, but I've been hearing that one of the main characters, the one who was killed, had the name Laura Palmer.


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