Developing New Writing Habits

Many of us have some bad habit in our writing that we need to fix. It may be that we do too much telling of the story or too much dialogue. My personal bad habit is skimping on the descriptive elements in the story. I think it has something to do with being in too big a hurry to tell the story.

So what do I do?

Well, for starters, I start adding more description. There’s the no-brainer. But how? I’ve never been a fan of description for descriptions sake. It has always felt like padding the story.

No, I’ve got to spend more time using the character’s various senses for one thing: sight, smell, taste, touch and sound. Now the trick here won’t be to force those senses in willy nilly. They have to be something my characters would actually notice. In other words, keep it natural to the character. Just as an example, a small boy might label an overpowering perfume as stinky while a man might find it provocative.

I’ve also got to do a bit more with inner monologue. Again, I’ve got to keep it true to the character. An adult might be thinking about how to pay the mortgage while a child will be considering how well a rock will skip on the water.

It all looks easy enough on paper but like any new habit, it’s going to take a lot of work to make it natural. And by natural, I mean that it will simply become the way I write every time I sit down in front of the computer.

I already know that it will be a LOT of work to create this new habit, but it is one that will be worthwhile. Making the effort now will take me from the ranks of good writers to (hopefully) great ones. That’s a worthy goal, isn’t it?

So what brought me to this realization?

When you hear comments from various people who have no connection to each other (except for my writing, of course) you have to listen. That is the beauty of feedback and the reason we as writers need to pay attention to it.

So, what new writing habits do you need to develop? Let’s inspire each other and move from good to great together.

Personal Update

My YA novel was rejected… sort of. And it really got me to thinking, hence my thoughts above. The publisher left the door open for me to resubmit the novel with the suggested improvements. In fact, I got two very encouraging comments from two people at the publisher telling me to revise the novel and resubmit it. Both thought the novel was ‘almost there’ but needed to be fleshed out a bit more.

With an invitation like that, how can I not? I mean, either I’m a writer or I’m a poser. I’d like to think I’m a writer and I DO want to improve so revision of the novel is in my future.

I will let you know how successful I am in developing the new habit.

One last thing, in case I haven’t mentioned it enough, I will be leaving for Baltimore tomorrow for Balticon. If you are attending, please look me up. I’d love to talk with you.



  1. One of the things I am most dissatisfied in my own writing is the dialogue. I feel it is very wooden at times and lacks the sense of “naturalness” that is necessary to be an enjoyable read. So, I have to admit, this is an area that I have been trying to work on with each little thing I write. Sometimes it seems to work, other times, well not so much.

    Great post!

  2. Congrats on the good feedback despite the ‘rejection’! Nice to know you’re ‘almost there.’

    The point about learning new habits is a good one. My husband wrote some stories, mostly for his own enjoyment, that had some good and bad in them. Now that he’s undertaken a much larger project the bad habits are shining through and one of them is the same as the one you’ve described above: Lack of detail.

    I really wish you luck with learning to add the descriptive detail needed to flesh the story out. I’m not good at it either and I need to work on this as well. 🙂

  3. Hey, hope you enjoy your Balticon, Mike. Personally, I quite have troubles with adding description as well, although I usually describe it as White-Room Syndrome. I have tried to add in more description, but much like you, its an uphill struggle the whole way.

  4. I guess writing well is like anything else. Practice, practice, practice. It also doesn’t hurt to have friends and colleagues encouraging you along the way.

  5. Yes, it feels good to know that I’m almost at the point where my work is ready. The only downside is, I hate waiting. 🙂 Ah well, anything worth doing is worth doing well, right?

  6. I’ve thought about the whole description thing a lot. I like to think that I’m observant, but I know I don’t see nearly as much as say, an artist. I’ve got to work on developing that eye, I suppose. Good luck to us all in developing better writing habits.

  7. Great post Mike, I have the same problem. I love Robert Jordan, but sometimes the story isn’t moving forward because the characters are just belching out exposition. That said, I think I try to write a story with no boring parts, but I’ve been told I lack description. I think I’m trying too hard to make my stories move quickly. I’m constantly thinking about story structure now when I watch movies, and read books. There are so many things I need to get a handle on in my writing, but we will all march on, learning as we go, and hopefully improving with every paragraph written or deleted 🙂 Hope you’re having a great time at Balticon!

  8. Hi Michell, I think it’s great that the publisher is prepared to look at a rewrite. That means they are definitly interested. I tend to look on the bright side in all this business, otherwise we can easily get discouraged. So go for it, Rewrite it.

    I thought mine was finished when my agent asked me to cut 19,000 words. I did it and it is better. One of my bad habits is putting in too much description, hence the cutting down! I see my story in my head like a movie, so I don’t find it hard to describe it, just to describe it with the minimum of words.

    It’s nice to connect with other writers. You can see ch 1 of my YA/Adult fantasy novel on the ‘Lethal Inheritance’ page on

  9. I think its great that the publisher is willing to look at it again. I say, leave it for a while, then go for it again. It’s worth it.

    My agent asked me to lose 19000 words from my YA/Adult fantasy novel. I did and it improved it.

    My bad habit is the opposite of yours – too much description. – hence the beauty of having to cut so many words. I’m also a visual artist and I see my story as if I’m watching a movie. Maybe that will help you. i have definitly improved with practice, we all do.

    It’s great to connect with other writers. I’ll be coming back to spend more time here.

    You might like to have a look at ch 1, it’s on the ‘Lethal Inheritance’ page of

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