Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Writing Blunders

Even after a year of learning the craft, I still find myself making the same mistakes over and over. I've just reached the editing stage of my manuscript (the part I consider the least fun and now I know why!) and have realised that I'm making the same mistakes I did back when I started, even though I know I shouldn't write this way. *head desk*

Here are the top no, nos which keep finding their way into my writing:-

  1. Overusing words like 'that' and 'which'. Reading back over my ms, I know that I can delete most of them. So why put them there in the first place? Mind boggling.
  2. Your verses you're. Seriously, I do know the difference and yet from this ms you couldn't tell!
  3. Extremely long sentences when two or even three would be punchier. I seem to shorten sentences on the lead up to tension, but for the rest of the time I can cut them down. Lets face it, no one wants to read a sentence which could qualify for a paragraph with so many commas the reader (and me) get lost.
  4. Past tense verses present tense. This is something I've only recently learned how to spot. Before, I'd write sentences which included both and I couldn't for the life of me tell the difference. I'm getting there, but it is something I need to watch out for. The easiest way for me to remember (and I'm putting it in simple terms here) is, you can't have a doing word in a sentence which includes the words had, went, done, etc. Although there are many other rules, but I'm still learning :o)
  5. Its verses It's. You use it's when you are saying it is. Its the rest of the time.
  6. Overuse of expressions like barely, a little and big. I keep telling myself to 'mix it up' or 'be specific' but I've gotten into such a habit writing things like this its hard to break. I suppose that's why we edit :o)
  7. Rambling or repeating. I don't do this so much anymore (give or take the odd word repetition in the same paragraph), but some have still found their way into this story. Glad I'm over on my word count 'cause my delete key is getting a serious work out!
  8. Last, but by no means least, having the reaction before the action. E.g. 'Protagonist' burst into fits of giggles at his joke. Whereas in reality the situation would be reversed.
What are the common mistakes you make when writing?


  1. I'm still very guilty of #1-8. I catch a whole lot more than I used to, but I'm slowly getting there. I still have to say out loud woman/women and breath/breathe. I remember the last because of that Faith Hill song. lol

  2. I'm guilty of so much more, but these are the ones I've come across so far!

  3. I have to watch #8. Though, now that I think about it, I'm wondering if I know that rule for doing word + had/went/done... o.O

  4. I'm okay with most of those, but I do pick up slips from third person limited to third person omniscient. I think it comes from reading too much epic fantasy! :)

  5. I thought I'd sussed it all out, then I read back what I'd written and, nope, not sussed it at all! lol. At least I can spot my blunders, I suppose.

    Well done Madeline, I'd love to be where you are. Started writing a year ago, and late considering I'm 25 already! But I'll get there - hopefully - slowly but surely :o)

    1. I'll confess to a head start - my Arts degree had a major in Professional Writing. Grammar was a very insightful and incredibly painful unit ;-)

      Considering you've only been writing for a year, you're flying, Aimee. And I wouldn't say 25 is a late start (I'm 25 too!), some people don't start writing until they retire. You'll definitely get there :)

    2. In that case I guess I have a head start then! :o) Ah, maybe one day...