Feature image: greenzowie

Writing isn’t speed dating, but sometimes it can feel that way. Today’s readers, editors, contest judges, and agents are crazy busy people. Your writing needs to grab them right away – and hold them. You can guarantee your seduction won’t work if you:

1. Open your writing with dialogue. (Professionals in the business spot that right away as the sign of an amateur.)

2. Use vague language, e.g., We were happy where we were. Who is we? What kind of happy? Where were you?

3. Use cliches, e.g., I was finally out of my comfort zone. Now I could think outside the box and add this mountain to my bucket list.

4. Use meaningless travel brochure descriptions: The magnificent sun-dappled flanks of this glorious mountain range beckoned outside my cozy hotel room window.

5. Write inanimate objects doing human things: A sullen sky told us to stay indoors for the day.

6. Address the writer directly, a la blogspeak: You know how it is. You’ve always wondered what it would be like to take a river trip, right? Well, guess what? I have too.

7. Use second person as if you know what others are thinking/feeling. While some contemporary writers use second person as a way to get up close and personal with a reader, that practice is actually off-putting. It assumes that everyone is like you: You’ve waited forever to see Paris. Now, here you are. How can you make this trip the trip of a lifetime?

8. Last, but most important: Don’t proofread and double check with your grammar/spell feature on your word processing program. Professionals in the writing world will spot a typo, spelling error, and clumsy sentence structure and read no further.

If you want to score with your readers go personal, detailed, and grammatically perfect: My partner Ruti and I stopped half-way up the almost invisible trail to the hidden canyon waterfall in the Black Rock Desert. I dropped to the sand and fought to catch my breath. Ruti looked up at the diamond-white sun.

Want to know what happens next? Me too.