Article from The Guardian. July 2015.
Tips from Charlie Sheppard, Jane Griffiths, Kirsty Stansfield, Ben Horslen, Denise Johnstone-Burt, Annalie Grainger, and Emily Thomas.
“Jane Griffiths, editor of The Year of the Rat by Clare Furniss and The Dark Inside by Rupert Wallis:
Forgetting that readers don’t know the world and characters you’ve created as well as you do.
This isn’t just a first-time author trap, but first novels tend to be manuscripts that authors spend months (or years in fact, as that germ of an idea becomes something more) carefully crafting, becoming so in-tune with their characters and world that they forget readers don’t have the same knowledge. I’ll often ask a question about a particular scene that isn’t clear or a character’s reaction that I don’t understand and the author will know the answer without hesitation – they’ve just forgotten to put it actually on the page so the reader knows too.
Thinking too much about your readership and not enough about your story.
This is especially true in children’s books, where authors write what they think children want to read rather than focusing on the story they want to tell. Of course you should never lose sight of your reader, but don’t overthink because all too often that shows through in the writing, what’s important is that the voice is genuine and the plot keeps you turning those pages.
Telling not showing
Lots of editors will state this as a pitfall for authors. Good writing doesn’t rely on just telling readers what’s happening or stating how a character feels, instead you should draw on the imagination by creating scenes that people can feel and see and smell. It’s that spark in someone’s mind that will really bring a novel alive for them.