There have been a few comments on my previous blog 'What did an MA in writing do for you?' And I hope to post some of the responses next week.
In the meantime, I've had a few more thoughts. Mainly, they concern dismal plot devices that I might have forgiven before I earned my MA, now they can prompt me to toss the book aside.
1. Dreams - a boring way to provide a character's fears or hopes. I did this in my dissertation MA and shouldn't be surprised that it didn't make publication.
2. Telling us why a character is in a particular location. Please, just take us straight into the scene, if it's well written we'll be there with your character and never a question in our heads.
3. Info dump. Please don't interrupt a scene to tell us background information on the character's childhood, teenage years, previous romances, relationship with mother, etc. If it's relevant it should be slipped in slimly.
4. Avoid the 'Don't hate me because I'm beautiful,' characters. They are dull. I'm currently reading a novel that looked promising in the blurb, but I'm still waiting for this character to grow a spine. In real life, pretty people can also be interesting.
5. Coincidences - yes, they happen. But they are rare - and they should be even less frequent in novels. If your character meets an old lover while going through a rough time with a partner, stop writing - it's soap operatic!

In the meantime, tell me, 'What did an MA in writing do for you?'