Common mistakes in writing

Well, it is interesting, and I've seen quite a bit of the terms mentioned; however, some of it just doesn't make sense to me. It is quite possible that this is true because I'm not a writer - though one would think that an avid reader like myself would be able to understand this kind of thing even if I couldn't put it to use. Particularly puzzling are these:

The Motherhood Statement
SF story which posits some profoundly unsettling threat to the human condition, explores the implications briefly, then hastily retreats to affirm the conventional social and humanistic pieties, ie apple pie and motherhood. Greg Egan once stated that the secret of truly effective SF was to deliberately "burn the motherhood statement." (Attr. Greg Egan)

Squid on the Mantelpiece
Chekhov said that if there are dueling pistols over the mantelpiece in the first act, they should be fired in the third. In other words, a plot element should be deployed in a timely fashion and with proper dramatic emphasis. However, in SF plotting the MacGuffins are often so overwhelming that they cause conventional plot structures to collapse. It's hard to properly dramatize, say, the domestic effects of Dad's bank overdraft when a giant writhing kraken is levelling the city. This mismatch between the conventional dramatic proprieties and SF's extreme, grotesque, or visionary thematics is known as the "squid on the mantelpiece."

False Interiorization
A cheap labor-saving technique in which the author, too lazy to describe the surroundings, afflicts the viewpoint-character with a blindfold, an attack of space-sickness, the urge to play marathon whist-games in the smoking-room, etc.

Anybody have any examples of these being used - say in a book I may have read? I really want to understand these but I'm just not getting them.
Yes thanks Brian

this is really usful and also really funny. Loved:

The mis-use of the present participle is a common structural sentence-fault for beginning writers. "Putting his key in the door, he leapt up the stairs and got his revolver out of the bureau." Alas, our hero couldn't do this even if his arms were forty feet long.

I am sure I have been guilty of this at some point.
This one is just too omnipresent:

Idiot Plot

A plot which functions only because all the characters involved are idiots. They behave in a way that suits the author's convenience, rather than through any rational motivation of their own. (Attr. James Blish)
A very interesting read even for an avid reader and occasional RP writer.

One sadly far too common error was omitted from the list: The Mary Sue / Gary Stu character. Common in women's romance novels and sf fanfic. Mary Sue or her male counterpart Gary Stu are characters who often have a hard childhood and somehow manage to make good, not thanks to their own effort, but because they are so attractive and lovable that the rest of the characters in the story fall over themselves and act out of character in order for Mary Sue to succeed. In the worst case, an author has spent an inordinate time building a wonderful world, but then allows a favorite character to break all the rules set up earlier, or at the very least implied.
I agree. The Mary Sue/Gary Stu should be added on there. Another thing about Mary Sues is that they can follow the rules and do their own work, but just have a huge advantage on everyone else. For instance, unlimited funds from a rich, recently deceased uncle to buy all sorts of gadgets that no one else can have because they're too expensive. Or even better (worse?), unlimited funds that are completely unexplained.
It's amazing that we can write something, see it in our mind's eye and still not get it across to the reader. Thanks for this I,Brian - very thought provoking and interesting.
There are two more I didn't see on there. The Paper Dragon and the White Elephant.

The Paper Dragon plot is when the problem is made out to be daunting and impressive, but is actually small and almost shockingly easy to overcome.

The White Elephant plot is when the entire story is about how everyone spends all this time and effort to acquire an item or something of great value, but in the end they decide they never wanted it anyway and go off to some rural utopian society where they live happily ever after with their new sweethearts.
For characterisation, I'd like to coin the following term:

Eddingsian Profiling: The gratuitous reuse of a character from a previous work, complete with temperament, behaviours, humour and favourite idioms, the only difference being a new name.
The Point-of-View problem is a common one. We get about five to ten submissions a week, and many have POV screw ups.

Simply put, only ONE character at a time in a scene or section of a novel is allowed to have private thoughts.

A Good Example of Bad POV:

The Captain stared at the horizon and wondered if the 'Sussex' would really be able to catch the French schooner and send it to the bottom. He turned to the First Officer. "Raise sail, Mr Johnson."

"Captain," replied Johnson, "the men are exhausted." Johnson noticed the dark circles under the captain's eyes and made a mental note to keep an eye on him.

"Do it!"

"Yes, sir."

Did you spot the problem here?
Did you spot the problem here?

I know I'm rubbish and everything, but actually, Robert, no. I didn't and I'm not sure I can. Is it wrong to explore each character's opinions in a scene? Isn't it just a literary equivalent of a film maker choosing different close-ups? Is my greatest flaw that I feel it encumbant on me to show why people keep doing the odd things they do in pursuit of their individual and often conflicting goals. Because if it is, then I think it's a flaw I want to keep and to Hell with fame, fortune and, of course, the highest of all conceits, recognition.

I thought you were going to leap between first/second/third persons in your example, but all it showed me was that the Captain has his concerns and Mr Johnson has his. Are we not to know where these perceptions will lead each character? Of course, if Johnson is never mentioned again in the entire work, then I might take your point and support it.

Is there another example of a bad example that even an idiot novice like me can understand?
Interference, what the example shows is that you can't switch from one character's viewpoint to another. Take, for example, this bit:

The Captain stared at the horizon and wondered if the 'Sussex' would really be able to catch the French schooner and send it to the bottom. He turned to the First Officer. "Raise sail, Mr Johnson."

As you can see, we are shown the Captain's thoughts (the part where he "wonders"). This means he is our point of view character. We expect, as a reader, to then follow his story, his thoughts, and see only what he can until the end of this scene. But suddenly in the next paragraph we encounter this line:

"Captain," replied Johnson, "the men are exhausted." Johnson noticed the dark circles under the captain's eyes and made a mental note to keep an eye on him.

This line suddenly switches into Johnson's thoughts ("Johnson noticed..."), therefore swapping POV character. Some authors have been known to do this, but it's best avoided. Try only describing one character's thoughts, showing us ONLY what he/she can see. Don't get "into" anyone else's head.

Hopefully here's an easier example of a POV switch (I've highlighted the three different character's thoughts):

Peter looked up at the building in front of him, wondering how they would enter without being noticed.

Bill noticed Peter's frown, but after knowing his friend for three years, he knew Peter would cheer up shortly. "Come on, off we go," he said.

Katie shook her head as she watched the two men set off towards the back entrance. After spending the last two days planning this, why did Peter look so doubtful? Surely they'd manage the job. Still, seeing Peter's doubt, Katie could feel her hands begin to tremble. Perhaps this was a bad idea...

To avoid this, you'd only stick to one POV character at a time, avoiding jumping into anyone else's head. So if your main character can't see or hear something, don't describe it.

Also, in the last line you'll see I've described Katie's hands sweating. This is also a POV switch. How could Peter, who I'll say is my POV character, know her hands are sweating unless she holds them up, or he's very perceptive. In that case you'd have to re-word the sentence to "Peter noticed Katie's hands begin to sweat".

Hope this clears it up for you...

Actually, there are very good writers who do switch point of view within the same scene, but you have to handle it just right to keep it from jarring. If you're writing the whole story in third person omniscent with the occasional brief dip into a character's mind, it can work. Using your own analogy of movie making, Interference, it works like this: You do the wide establishing shot, then eventually zoom in on a single character. Then you draw back and watch everyone from a little distance for a while before you do a close-up of another character. But you don't do a series of quick cuts back and forth between close-ups unless you want to create a choppy, disorienting effect.

In the same way, if you're going along writing a scene from one character's viewpoint and you do a sudden switch to another character ... it's sloppy. Fame and fortune aside, it's messy and awkward. The flaw is not in trying to make everyone's motivations clear, it's in choosing the least effective way to do that. If you try to do too much in a scene (for instance, tell what everyone is thinking at the exact moment they think it) it usually creates confusion rather than clarity. There are other ways, better ways to do what you want to do than to create a kind of whiplash effect by alternating back and forth from mind to mind. It's also, as others have pointed out, the mark of an amateur. Whether or not that matters to you, I assume you do care about becoming the best writer that you can possibly be. Paying attention to this kind of detail is what will get you there.
Teresa and Leisha, thank you both for taking the pains to explain this issue to me. I do get what you are both describing and am suddenly made aware that it has its concomitant drawbacks. What I'm not sufficiently experienced to understand - and, hands raised, it's my problem - is when is switching from mind to mind allowed? Because surely writers like Ed McBain, John Galsworthy, Arnold Bennett must have done it all the time, given the ensemble natures of their storylines.

Now, I know it sounds like I'm just saying it for effect, but there is an underlying slit-belly honesty about my amateur standing and so forth. I've had stories rejected which have fallen into what you have described as an amateur's trap, and if focus-flipping is the reason for the rejections I think it's something I should seriously address. Unfortunately, it is an ingrained method of my current style and I'm not sure I wish to abandon the concerns of all my characters to favour just one. I want to know as much about the assassin's motives as the victim's terror, probably because I started life writing for screen, stage and radio, and I've directed more plays than I've had hot dinners (I eat a lot of salads). So I would sell the family silver for guidance in this area - you know, obviously, if the family had any silver worth selling.

So, will this adherence to a style that is considered 'bad' be my ultimate downfall and the source of all my longest-standing regrets? (That might be rhetorical - please don't say 'yes' just yet.) Or are there acceptable exceptions? (I'd love a little 'yes' in there, if that's ok, but I'd appreciate it even more if you'd expand a bit on it.)