5 Common Creative Writing Mistakes to Avoid in 11 Plus Exams

Schoolgirl writing in classroom lesson in primary school

As a writer, you want your work to be the best it can be. You spend hours poring over your writing, ensuring everything is right. But no matter how diligent you are, some common creative writing mistakes can easily slip into your work.

This article will review five of these mistakes and how to avoid them. By following these tips, you can take your writing to the next level and create stories that captivate readers.

Mistake 1: Overusing Adverbs and Adjectives

Adverbs and adjectives are words that describe actions and things, respectively. They can be useful in adding detail to your writing, but it’s easy to overdo it. Too many adverbs and adjectives can make your writing sound cluttered and less powerful. Instead of relying on adverbs and adjectives, try using stronger verbs and nouns to convey the same meaning.

For example, consider the following sentence: “She walked quickly and confidently to the door.” Here, “quickly” and “confidently” are adverbs that describe how the character walks. Instead, you could use a stronger verb and a single adjective to convey the same meaning: “She strode confidently to the door.”

Mistake 2: Using Passive Voice Instead of Active Voice

Smiling girl sitting at table, writing in notebook

Passive voice is a grammatical construction in which the subject of the sentence is the recipient of the action rather than the doer of the action. For example, “The book was read by him” is passive, while “He read the book” is active. Passive voice can make your writing sound dull and lifeless, while active voice is more engaging and dynamic.

To avoid using passive voice, always try to make the subject of the sentence the doer of the action. For example, instead of saying, “The cake was baked by the chef,” you could say, “The chef baked the cake.” This makes the sentence more direct and engaging.

Mistake 3: Failing to Show, Not Tell

One of the most common pieces of writing advice is to “show, not tell.” This means that instead of simply telling the reader what’s happening or what a character is feeling, you should use descriptive language to show them. For example, instead of saying, “She was angry,” you could show her anger by describing her body language and tone of voice.

Showing, not telling, makes your writing more vivid and engaging. It allows the reader to experience the story alongside the characters rather than simply being told what’s happening. So, next time you’re tempted to tell your readers how a character feels, think about how you can show it instead.

Mistake 4: Not Developing Characters Enough

Characters are the heart of any story, and readers want to care about them. But it’s easy to fall into the trap of creating flat or underdeveloped characters that readers can’t connect with. To avoid this, take the time to think about your characters and their motivations. What do they want? What are their flaws? How do they react to challenges?

One way to develop your characters is to create character sheets that detail their personalities, backstories, and motivations. This can help you get to know your characters better and make them feel like real people rather than just plot devices.

Mistake 5: Ignoring the Importance of Editing

No matter how good a writer you are, your first draft is unlikely to be perfect. That’s why editing is so important. Editing allows you to refine your writing, catch mistakes, and improve the overall quality of your work.

To edit effectively, distance yourself from your writing before returning to it. This will help you approach your work with fresh eyes and spot mistakes or areas that need improvement. Pay attention to grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and pacing when editing. You might also consider reading your work aloud to catch awkward phrasing or errors.

By editing your work, you can ensure it’s the best it can be before you share it with others.

By avoiding these five common creative writing mistakes, you can take your writing to the next level and create stories that captivate readers. Remember to use strong verbs and nouns, favour active voice over passive voice, show rather than tell, develop your characters fully, and edit your work thoroughly. By putting these tips into practice, you’ll be on your way to becoming a better writer.

If you want to improve your creative writing skills further, consider signing up for The Creative Writing Crash Course. This course is designed to help students aged 9-12 prepare for the 11 Plus creative writing exam. With expert guidance and practical tips, you’ll learn how to write stories that stand out and impress examiners. Visit the site to learn more and enrol today.

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