1. TELLING way too much.
It's true. As writers we are storyTELLERS, right? Well, you've heard it a thousand times, I'm sure. "Show don't tell." Good storytellers actually show the action, and that's what makes them good. The hard part is to recognize when you're telling instead of showing. There's a few words to watch out for; they frequently indicate the action is being told about instead of shown. Any form of the verb "to be," forms of has, to feel.
2. Incorrect speech attribution punctionation.
This is actually a common mistake I see in a lot of manuscripts I edit as well. And it's easier to show examples than explain. This is the proper punctuation:
"I am going to the store," she said.
"You are going to the store?" he asked.
"We will go to the store!" they yelled.
We said, "Let's go to the store."
**Whenever an attribution word like said, asked, shouted, yelled, etc., it acts as one sentence. Consider this. If you took out the quotations and treated it like a normal sentence, would this make sense: I'm going to the store. She said.
No, of course not. That seems silly. You'd say: I'm going to the store, she said.
The puctuation changes when you attribute speeches with actions. This is the proper punctation:
"I'm going to the store." She picked up her purse.
He raised his eyebrows. "You're going to the store?"
"We will go to the store." They jumped up and down.
We hugged each other. "Let's go to the store."
3. Assuming too much, assuming too little.
We all know what they say about assuming, right? Well, in writing, you walk a fine line. You have to trust your readers to understand what's going on without you having to explain every detail. It's hard. I still struggle with these things, and usually only my critiquers pick out when I insert too much or not enough. So ... don't go overboard. AND, don't forget, don't make readers guess.
What were the mistakes you made in your first manuscript?