Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. One of the speakers was Bruce Coville, author of an amazing 95 books, including the bestselling Unicorn Chronicles. In his keynote speech, he used the device of the "Seven Deadly Sins", and tweaked them to apply to writers. I thought I'd share his insights.
The Seven Deadly Sins for Writers, from Bruce Coville
1. Dullness. No matter who you're writing for, your work should "spark and sparkle", according to Coville. There's no excuse for being boring.
2. Repetition. Coville says there are two kinds of repetition. Repeating what's been done by others, and repeating ourselves. A great book is only like itself.
3. Cliche. The words are dead on the page. They don't say anything (except perhaps that the writer has no imagination).
4. Sloth. Sit down and do the work. Use what Ray Bradbury calls "ass-glue" to stay in your chair. Stretch yourself. Make yourself better.
5. Inattention. This comes from not thinking things through. Remember, no character moves in isolation.
6. Perfectionism. This will stop you in your tracks. It is the enemy of the good, of completion, of achievement. Coville suggests using the first draft to "vomit" on the page. It won't be much good, but you can't edit something, until it's on the page.
7. Clumsiness. This is lack of craft. Learn the ins and outs of the language. What works and what's clunky. Editors and agents will spot clumsiness a mile away.
In two weeks, I'll share the rest of Coville's talk: The Seven Heavenly Virtues for Writers.