The Seven Deadly Sins of Writing


Sin is something often associated with villains: base, debauched characters, riddled with vice.

Yet sin is something that touches even the most virtuous: it is, arguably, only by resisting the temptation of sin that one may become virtuous, and thus heroes are born.

Fictional characters are not alone in facing these conflicts; in reality, the Seven Deadly Sins are something that oppose us every day. Writers, with their natural bent towards Hubris, as gods of their own creations, perhaps face the Sins more than others.

So, the question is: as a writer, just how sinful are you?

pride (1)PRIDE

Being unable to take criticism in any form.

The changing and developing of natural creative talent is what keeps novels, poetry and other works fresh, exciting. Heeding advice, listening to opinions and looking at things in new and different ways is how writers grow into authors, and authors grow into legends.

Despite this, criticism seems to be something few people are readily willing to handle when it comes to their own work. It’s understandable – when you’ve spent so much time on something, it’s hard to hear negative view points.

Just remember: there’s always something to improve. Once it’s perfect, then you can gloat.


Loving your characters to the point of the story getting lost in the glare of ‘their awesomeness’.

Oh, the dreaded Mary Sue. A now-loathed name among authors and readers alike, but she still prevails because some writers are prone to pick their favourites. Even your protagonist shouldn’t be the only thing about your story. Let the plot and secondary characters shine. An over-used character may mean boredom.

A bored reader means a closed, unfinished book.


Writing solely for the purpose of earning money.

If writing is your talent and your day job, all power to you. It is a profession many aim for (myself included!) and few achieve.

Yet, most people begin to write for the love of writing, story-telling, and words. Writing just for money means writing becomes just a job. Everyone knows jobs are dull. Remember your passion and creativity, and your work will reflect that. It will probably be the better for it!


Being unable to accept or enjoy another’s success, thinking them ‘undeserving’.

We’ve all done it. For a while, I was wildly jealous of Stephanie Meyer because I found Twilight less-than-satisfactory. However, I soon came to realise that there was a reason Meyer had success and I did not.

She’d bothered to finish a book. Several books, in fact. So, who was I to criticise when I had let Sloth win? Next time you grumble, take it as a suggestion of what you, yourself, need to work on.


Being unable to edit and ending up with a huge chunk of unreadable drivel.

Let’s face it. Tolkien could have ditched a few Dwarves and no one needed four pages dedicated to the description of a tree. Even professional writers sometimes let the pen run away with them.

Just remember when you’re writing, someone has to bother to read it. If you can’t edit your work because it’s a huge, daunting wall of text, who else will?

Separate the wheat from the chaff.


Let’s kill everyone!

George R. R. Martin, I’m looking at you.

Everyone loves a good death scene, and the phrase ‘Kill Your Darlings’ has become a staple piece of advice for a reason. However, death scenes become less dramatic when your manuscript is littered with the corpses of almost everyone your readers bothered to remember. Soon, they won’t care who dies, because the blood is so thick, they can’t read the words of your story anyway.

Some characters have to live, guys.


I’m going to be producti- oooh! Funny cat!

My favourite Sin. Of all seven, this is the one of which I am most guilty. How many times have you opened up a Word document or grabbed a pen, intending to write, and then have allowed yourself to be distracted by anyone and everything? Tumblr, Twitter, Google, Wikipedia… just the Internet in general, really.

Don’t let yourself get distracted. Make time to write and stick to that time. Cut out half an hour of telly per night and write instead… you might be surprised at the results.

So, talk to me. What’s your writing Sin?

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