As a member of several critique groups, I wholeheartedly encourage any fellow aspiring writers to join one. Below is a brief overview of many basic writing problems that critique group members have helped me find and fix.
POV- Do you jump from one character’s point of view to another’s? Are you inconsistent in use of point of view?
Verb Tense- Do you change from past to present or back? “We wanted to sneak into the theater. Do we dare?”
Not Using All the Senses- Are sound and sight the only senses you use in your writing? Smell is a very evocative sense that carries strong associations. What does baby powder make you think of? Mosquito spray? Chlorine? What about sound? Are the creaks from an old washing machine helping set the scene of a dilapidated house? What about the hum of street market sounds? Can you use sense of touch to make the paper-thin hands of an old man seem real?
Telling Instead of Showing- Do you say “she panicked” instead of “her hands became slick as the realization of her true situation set in”? Okay, that’s not a great example, but the idea is to describe the situation so that the reader can infer the emotion—not to explain the emotion directly to them. You don’t have to say “she was scared” when you can show it by saying “her hands shook so badly she dropped the phone.”
Starting Each Scene with a Weather Report- You want to set the scene, but you do not have to describe every detail before getting to the action. You can start with the action, and then say “the deafening sound of the rain only added to Bart’s uneasiness” or “he shivered from the cool evening breeze.”
Other issues my writer friends have helped me identify are: spending too much time making a point when a shorter version would be adequate; logic-checking in a sequence of events; identifying unrealistic timelines; keeping characters consistent in their manner of speaking or voice; keeping the story moving; making sure not to depend too much on narrative; changing the tone from one section to another, i.e., melodramatic in one chapter with wry humor in another; and lots of other things. ;)
If you are trying to improve your writing skills, getting feedback is essential. Whether you hire a writing tutor, enter contests, take a class or decide to join a group of fellow writers, I hope it helps you hone your skills. Best of luck in your continued development and success as a writer!
One thing most people don't know about me is that I have something called spasmodic dysphonia. It's a voice disorder. I get botox injections in my larynx to help me keep a smooth speaking voice.