10 Poisonous Mistakes That Will Kill Your Book Before It Begins

As a writer, you already know that there are many different ways to write a book. The rules are pretty flexible and you’ll find that each author has his or her own approach to getting words down on paper. This is great news for writers because it means there’s no single way to be successful as an author. 

But every once in a while, I come across something that seems like common sense but becomes quickly apparent that it’s not so common after all! 

These errors can cost writers months or even years of work and make their books look amateurish or worse: boring! So if you’re facing any of these problems with your novel (or even if not), here are some poison pills that will kill your book before it begins:

First Chapter MISTAKES New Writers Make
1. Inadequate Planning: Plan your book thoroughly before starting to avoid getting stuck midway.
2. Ignoring Editing: Neglecting proper editing can diminish the quality of your book.
3. Lack of Clear Structure: A well-organized structure is crucial for reader engagement.
4. Not Knowing Your Audience: Tailor your content to resonate with your target readers.
5. Weak Character Development: Characters play a vital role in driving the story’s impact.
6. Skipping Research: Proper research adds depth and authenticity to your writing.
7. Ignoring Feedback: Constructive feedback helps refine your book and address weaknesses.
8. Overlooking Marketing: Plan your marketing strategy early to ensure your book reaches its audience.
9. Setting Unrealistic Goals: Setting achievable goals keeps you motivated and focused.
10. Fearing Rejection: Embrace rejection as a part of the writing journey and keep persisting.

Have A Character With Nothing To Lose

The writing life is a tough one. It can be a lonely one, too. Sometimes the only thing that keeps you going is the thought of your book being read by others and appreciated by those who take the time to read it.

It’s easy to think “I have nothing to lose.” If no one reads my book, then I haven’t wasted too much time on it, and if they do read it and like it? Well, then I’ll feel like all my struggling was worth it!

But this attitude will kill your book before it even begins.

If you want people to read your work and enjoy doing so, then don’t give them any reason not to start reading in the first place!

Setting realistic goals is crucial for successful book writing. Discover the importance of goal-setting in our guide on writing realistic book goals, and learn how it can significantly impact your writing journey.

Don’t Write About What You Know, Write About What Interests You

Don’t write about what you know.

Don’t even think about that for a moment. The best thing to do is write about what interests you and make it relevant to the story in some way. You can use your unique perspective as a writer to bring an interesting look at something that might not otherwise be told from the point of view of an outsider looking in. 

There’s no need to regurgitate the same old ideas that have been presented over and over again; instead, create something new!

Don’t Use An Outline

One of the worst mistakes you can make as a writer is to start writing without an outline. The key benefit of an outline is that it helps you keep your story in order and on track. When people ask me about my process for writing a book, I always tell them that I begin by outlining the entire thing before I start writing anything.

I’ve found that using an outline has helped me avoid writer’s block and stay focused on my story since it gives me an overall picture of where things are going before I get started.

Outlines also help us keep our stories organized and in the right order so that readers aren’t confused or overwhelmed by too much information at once (which often happens when writers jump around from scene to scene).

Navigating the world of book writing requires the right tools and guidance. Our comprehensive resource, Book Writing Guides: Tools for Writing and Publishing, provides insights into the essential tools and guides that can streamline your writing process.

Not Writing Enough

Writing isn’t like other creative pursuits, where you can just sit down and do it. It’s a skill that needs to be practiced regularly, just like playing an instrument or learning another language. If you want to write well, then you need to write every day for a minimum of an hour a day, for at least one year before considering publishing anything.

Writing is hard work and requires commitment from authors who want their books to succeed in today’s competitive market. There are no shortcuts here you need good writing skills if you’re going to publish any book worth reading!

Writing For Yourself Instead Of The Reader

The most important thing to keep in mind when writing a book is that you are not the only one who will be reading it. Nobody wants to read something that was written for you, not them.

When you write for yourself, it shows in your work and brings down the quality of your writing by making it self-focused instead of reader-focused. It’s tempting to think about how cool or funny or interesting you are as a writer, but remember that nobody cares about this stuff except for other writers (and even then, maybe not). 

A good piece of writing does its job: it entertains and connects with readers on an emotional level so they can enjoy reading what they have between their hands with no distractions or interruptions from the writer himself/herself it’s all about them!

Using The Same Words Over And Over Again Instead Of Adding Variety To Your Word Choices

Did you know that repetition can be a sign of laziness? It is. Just because something works once doesn’t mean it will work again. And when you repeat words too often, your writing becomes boring and monotonous for the reader. 

People don’t want to read about a character who “went” over and over again; they want to read about a character who ran or jogged (or perhaps walked briskly).

Remember, every word has meaning so make sure your story isn’t weighed down by unnecessary repetition!

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Have An Intro That’s Too Long And Boring

The first introduction to your book should be short, snappy, and interesting. It’s not the place for a backstory it’s just an introduction to pull people in and let them know what they’re getting into. 

If you can make them laugh or smile in this first paragraph, or even make them gasp, then you’re on the right track. If you don’t do that, then it’s time for you to rethink your approach because it won’t hold up through the entire book!

Here is a great example from Camille’s book “The Art of Not Giving A F*ck”:

Getting Stuck In Editing Mode Instead Of Writing More Content

Editing is an important part of writing, but it’s not the most important one. Editing is about making your words better. It does not involve adding more words (unless you have a word count goal for your book).

Editing is about making sure that each story element supports the overall structure of your novel and adds to or enhances the reader’s experience. This means that editing isn’t just about fixing grammar mistakes.

It also involves reading through your manuscript multiple times with different colored pens, making notes to identify places where you should add more description or change how dialogue flows, and revising sentences until they are as clear as possible while still maintaining the content you want them to communicate.

Choosing the right topic for your first book is a pivotal decision. Dive into our guide on deciding what to write about in your first book to gain clarity on finding a compelling subject that resonates with your audience.

Never Send Your Work Out Or Sharing It With Others Until You’re Done With It

Sending your work out or sharing it with others before you’re done with it is one of the worst things you can do to yourself. You will get feedback, and it is vital for your success as an author that you learn from that feedback and use it to improve your work.

If you share your work when it’s not ready, no one will be able to give constructive criticism because they’ll all be too busy trying not to break into laughter at the terrible plot points or dialogue sequences. 

If people are unable to give their honest opinion about what could use improved for them to take your novel seriously, then how can they read another book of yours?

Editing Every Day After You’ve Worked On Your Book Instead Of Writing A New Chapter Or Scene Each Day

Writing a book is a lot like making a cake. You need to put in the ingredients before you can bake it. The more time you spend on getting all of the right ingredients into your story, the better your final product will taste.

For example, if you’re writing historical fiction and want readers to feel immersed in the era of your story, then you should do your research first. 

Find out all kinds of details about life during that period what people wore and ate, what they did for fun (or didn’t), etc., and incorporate these details into each scene so that when they read it feels like they are there with your characters living their lives throughout history.

The same principle applies when editing: don’t rush through it because it’s “not fun.” Instead, take care with each step along the way so that by the end when everything comes together perfectly (i mean… not perfect… but close enough), everything will be exactly as it needs to be!

Crafting an author brand is a vital step towards building a successful writing career. Explore our insights into creating an author brand that leaves a lasting impact on readers and establishes your unique voice within the literary world.


I hope these tips will help you avoid some of the mistakes I made as a writer and keep your book alive. Don’t forget that even though there are plenty of ways to kill it, there are also many ways to keep it healthy. Your job is simply to find out what works best for you and stick with those practices until they become second nature. Good luck!

Further Reading

Here are some additional resources to help you refine your book writing skills:

How to Start a Novel: Discover effective strategies for launching your novel and capturing readers’ attention from the very first page.

5 Things to Avoid When Writing Fiction: Learn about common pitfalls to steer clear of in your fiction writing journey to create a more engaging and compelling story.

How to Write a Novel: Delve into a comprehensive guide on novel writing that covers various aspects, from brainstorming ideas to polishing your manuscript.


Here are some frequently asked questions about book writing:

What are some effective strategies for starting a novel?

Starting a novel can be challenging, but techniques like crafting a captivating opening line, introducing a compelling character, or diving into a significant moment can hook readers right away.

What are common mistakes to avoid when writing fiction?

Avoiding excessive adverbs, maintaining consistent pacing, steering clear of info-dumps, refraining from overusing clichés, and ensuring characters’ actions align with their personalities are key pitfalls to watch out for.

How do I write a novel that keeps readers engaged?

To keep readers engaged, focus on creating relatable characters, building tension and conflict, maintaining a clear story structure, and weaving in emotional depth.

How can I develop a unique writing style for my novel?

Developing a unique writing style involves experimenting with different narrative voices, sentence structures, and descriptive techniques until you find a voice that resonates with your story and perspective.

What steps should I take to revise and edit my novel effectively?

Effective revision involves taking a break before revisiting your manuscript, identifying areas that need improvement, checking for consistency in plot and character development, and seeking feedback from beta readers or professionals.