This space serves as a collection of resources/tips for me (and others) to use in hopes of bettering our writing! I've found all of these online and I'm just compiling them into one space for ease of use. Note: Do not listen to any of this "advice" if you don't want to. It's mostly for myself anyway!
I'll also be including my own writing projects here!
If you're like me and you'd like to write a professional novel with only a background in fanfiction... Then these might help! Or, just generally if you'd like to elevate your fanfiction!
Messy Dialogue Tags: By this I mean the excessive usage of them! I'm personally really bad at this, both in terms of just never saying said and also including an unecessary amount of action between dialogue. Sometimes it's nice to just have a back and forth of dialogue, maybe with one or two actions between whoever is speaking! Content packed between dialogue tags, like whole paragraphs (calling myself out) of action tags before another word is said is discouraged. Adverb abuse usually ties into this too, for example: He whispered quietly, gently brushing hair out of her eyes softly.
Mary Sue/Gary Stu: Listen... I love a good mary sue every now and then, but they aren't as appreciated (if at all) by the wider reading audience. To dive deeper on the topic though, this mostly comes into play in regards to characters acting in ways that are just... Abnormal in daily life. Doing and saying things that no one IRL would typically ever! A good way to combat this that I've found is to say your dialogue out loud, and if it feels forced or silly, then re-write it. Also act out your action tags if you can! Following this, it's a good idea to draw inspiration from real life experiences too so that you have a good base for what's "normal" or "expected".
Melodrama: General over the top and excessive monologues, dialogue, and actions. This ties into the above point too, but also in the sense of struggling to keep track of character development. It's always nice to have a character have their moment, but we have to work to get there! We want to make our characters feel like real people with real development and "arcs" as it were. Not everything has to be big and beautiful, and sometimes we just have to appreciate the quiet moments of character growth.
Reactions: It's often seen in fanfiction (I still do this to this day!) to have a line written something along the lines of... His eyes widened and his cheeks blushed. Do you know what I mean? This should be avoided in the sense that bodily reactions for your POV character are very unlikely to observe themselves, therefore why would it be mentioned, right? Doing so is externally describing an internal reaction. It's much better and more interesting to instead describe feelings and such that can ultimately communicate that your character is blushing without directly saying so.
Show, don't tell: Like the above, this is just a general reminder that you should always strive to show and not directly tell what is happening.
Tense Shifting: It's common in fanfiction to read shifting tenses, such as: She walked to the chair and she sit down. This can throw the reader out of the reading experiencing and feels really amateur-ish. Once you pick a tense, stick with it. It can happen between present and past tense, but sometimes also with first and third person perspective, and doing so creates cognitive dissonance with a reader.
A lot of the fanfic help can also be classed as general tips, but where the fanfic section is aimed specifically for those with a fanfic background, these tips are for a more general audience without that sort of background!
Info Dumping: Paragraphs upon paragraphs (like what I'm doing now) of information that may well be related to your story just... Dumped, front and centre for your reader to get through before getting to the juicy bits of story. This is tiring for most readers to get through and is generally discouraged. The show don't tell rule ties in nicely with this point, in that you should strive to organically reveal lore without directly saying it. Infodumping bores the reader, and we can provide context and backstory through more interesting ways such as dialogue, reactions, and actions.
Excessive Dialogue Tags: Similar to the first point in the fanfiction section, this also applies to dialogue tags such as... "How are you?" She asked. "I'm fine, how are you?" She answered. "I'm good, but a little sleepy." She said. "Oh no, me too!" She replies.
Do you see what's going on here? It would be much better to just eliminated all of the replied, answered, said etc! Once one party has been established in dialogue, the reader can intuitively follow the flow of dialogue.
Repetitive Sentence Structure: Starting every sentence/paragraph with similar or the exact same way is discouraged. Especially bad in first person. For example: I go, I say, I feel, I do, I walk. Try to include more variety! Otherwise, the reader will quickly grow bored. Play with the language!
Redundant Writing: A difficult point to condense, but basically this is in reference to adding things to your writing that, if they were removed, would either keep the overall structure/passage/context the same or better. For example: "My mother had always said that gardening was the root of all happiness" VS "My mother always said that gardening was the root of all happiness." Do you see how removing had made that sentence a lot more direct, powerful, and even emotional? Another example: "I walked so fast I practically ran home!" VS "I raced home!". Conditional phrasing makes that sentence feel weaker!
Grammar Mistakes: A rather obvious one, but one that I struggle with a lot! This isn't just about spelling, though try to stay consistent in your spelling between American and UK english (@ me LOL), but also about punctuation usage! Run on sentences (again, me...) are pretty common too and should be avoided in favour of grammar to make the reading experience better. It's a learning curve, but knowing when to use a semicolon versus an emdash is good knowledge to have, as well as spelling and sentence structure.
Poor Scenes/Filler: Do you have a lot of scenes where your characters are ending up in random situations and/or having random discussions that don't really drive the plot forward or serve any purpose related to the story? Or even if there is a plot point, it can often be buried under layers of filler! Or maybe even it's just a direct play-by-play of characters going from one location to another... Whatever it is, there is often a better and more engaging/direct way of showing these plot points without all of the filler included. Be sure not to include too much description of things that don't directly relate to the plot or your characters.
Pacing Issues: An understandable mistake if you're new to writing! What is pacing? It's the speed at which your story moves forward. Have you ever been reading something and thought to yourself: Wow! We got to this part really fast, and I feel like we're missing something... Yeah, we'd like to avoid things like that! Finding the perfect happy medium is difficult, but generally speaking we want to avoid long dragging paragraphs that are oftentimes filled with the above filler point, infodumping, excessive dialogue/action tags. Or if your pacing is too fast, then it could be an issue of not taking the time to develop character arcs, building tension, offering good conflicts. We have to connect parts of the story well enough to not have the pacing be too fast, but not too much otherwise the reading experience will be slow and boring.
All A plot, No B Plot: It's good practice to have an A plot (the main conflict of your story) and also a B plot (the subplot) to offer complexity and other conflicts into your story. The subplot can offer further conflicts to the A plot, and just having an A plot generally does not make for a complete story. Usually stories with only an A plot can run into pacing issues. Be sure to explore both (or more!) plots fully and see how they bounce off each other!
Head/POV Hopping: Third person is at the biggest risk for this. Basically it means that if you're in the POV characters head and suddenly we switch to another characters POV, that can be jarring and difficult for the reader to process. If you're writing limited POV, don't switch to another POV to showcase how your main limited POV character is reacting/acting.
Telling: Show don't tell, as mentioned above, is pretty much agreed upon as good practice with stories. To delve a bit deeper into it though, telling versus showing steals the experience away from your reader. Telling creates distance between the reader and your story, and creates filters. By this I mean "I feel angry" versus describing what the emotion anger makes my POV character feel. Maybe their chest is tight and their jaw clenches, and through expressing those feelings instead of outright telling the reader, it'll be understood given context what my character is experiencing is anger.
Perfect Characters: Characters without flaws tend to not only be boring, but disliked due to the readers inability to connect with them on a deeper level. We want to make our characters experience conflict, harm, and otherwise bad situations that can oftentimes interact with their flaws. This makes them human and makes them feel much more real than if they were perfect and reacted to every situation with all the knowledge the book has to offer! Remember, we know all of the information because we're writing it, but our characters don't know everything.
Things that you might find useful for writing/as a writer!
OneLook Thesaurus: An amazing thesaurus and dictionary, and one that I use for every writing project I do, whether that's novel or fanfiction related. It has a cool feature where if you've forgotten a word you can give the search abr context clues and it'll show you results! For example: fake lighting will show the result for artificial lighting!
Wordcounter: Exactly as it says, this site counts your words lol. It has a cool feature on the right hand side too where it shows you how long the passage you entered would take to read and the general reading level (among other cool stats).
Height Comparison: A good site to see how different heights stack up against each other, useful for knowing if a character has to stand on their tippy toes to steal a kiss!
Resources For Describing Physical Things: Want to know how to describe a courtroom but have never actually been in one? Then this link is for you! A collection of descriptions for various things, such as setting, weather, colours, and textures.
Punctuation Explained: If, like me, you forget or aren't sure when to use which punctuation, then this site explains it all for you! I usually always have it open when I'm writing just to double check!