The next “forbidden trait” I found in the Hugos and Nebulas I read was … failure to stay on topic.
When a writer goes off on a wild tangent that really doesn’t relate to the story, that’s referred to as “taking a bird walk” or “going down a rabbit trail.” Some writers are noted for these useless excursions. My best example is Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. I was given an English unabridged version once years ago because I enjoy the tale. The book was huge – over 1200 pages worth of story. Incredible! Even more amazing? A 100-page description of the history of the Paris sewer system and another rather extensive description of a battle involving Napoleon. Those were some serious bird walks.
None of the Hugos and Nebulas had bird walks nearly that impressive, but some had some pretty substantial digressions for bizarre minutiae that really had no significant impact on the plot. According to the Rules of Excellent Writing, every chapter, scene, page, paragraph, sentence, word, letter, and punctuation mark must prove it has a reason to exist. If it cannot, out it goes! … Even if it was the most brilliant piece of writing you have ever done. It serves to advance the plot or develop a character or it gets the axe.
I have writer pals who boast of their ability to cut a third of their drafts while revising. That saddens me. What kind of incredible stuff was lost? Sure, some stuff needs to go. Some things that sounded great in Draft #1 are clearly destined for the debris pile during the revision process, but cutting stuff because some Expert says you must lose X% of the word count in revision? Foolishness, I say.
When revising, test everything. If it’s necessary, fix what needs fixing and keep it. Get rid of what you don’t need, particularly if it’s uninteresting or unfixable. When it comes to those things that may not be necessary but add interest? Maybe you can keep a few of those. After all, the name of the game is entertainment.
In the end, there aren’t many who will care how many words were cut from the first draft. They only care if the story kept them entertained.