Sometimes, we even find ourselves asking that question repeatedly - about the same thing.
I started thinking about this when my husband managed to lock himself out of our house yet again last week. It's something he does at least once a month, and I can't understand it for the life of me. Sure, everyone misplaces their keys once in a while - but not my husband. His keys are always in the same spot on our kitchen counter.
Yes, that's right. His keys are right next to his cell phone and his wallet, and yet he manages to proceed down to the garage (which is locked from the inside) having grabbed only two out of three (and a couple other things, granted), and not realize it until he's closed that (locked) door behind him.
Cue knocking on the door, followed by grumbling, disbelieving Gina stopping whatever she's doing to stomp downstairs and bring him his keys.
The first few times this happened, I thought it was totally unfathomable that it could happen more than once.
But then I realized almost everyone has a signature stupid move - even in writing.
For most of us, our manuscripts aren't "born" perfect. It takes the sharp eyes of some trusted betas and critique partners to shine them up, and point out the things we fall victim to over and over again.
For some, it's passive voice.
Others (clarification: myself) have love affairs with crutch words like "just" or "well." (I recently read a published novel where the phrase "just shrugged" appeared so many times, I almost screamed. For shame, editor. For shame.)
Which brings me to repetitive phrasing - AKA, wait, you mean "crap on a cracker" isn't as funny the seventeenth time as it is the first?!
Or maybe your characters exhibit the same physical reactions over and over, sighing and rolling their eyes so often they might as well be having a mild seizure.
Obvious favorite in a love triangle? Make the other boy a complete douche, and don't bother giving your readers the option to like him (ding ding ding! Me again!)
Still, maybe your claim to fame is changing a character's name or physical description mid-stream without realizing it.
Or, you could be a fan of my latest stupid move: thinking you're done or almost done with the project, only to go through the first half of the novel and realize there are at least two or three more scenes that need to be written before you can show this underdeveloped mess to anyone without a massive dose of shame.
So tell me, peeps - what's your Signature Stupid Move when you write (or otherwise)? Which ones do you notice in published novels that drive you up a wall (and do you notice them because they're your own?)?