When Lea asked us to talk about our writing pet peeves I thought it should be expanded to include more than that. So I’m going to speak about the kinds of writing mistakes I see all the time as an editor and I’m also going to talk about the mistakes I have made as a writer.
First of all here are my pet peeves in writing:
- your for you’re
This one continually makes me want to scratch out the eyes of the people who make it. I’ve seen it everywhere, including in newspaper and magazine articles and It really drives me nuts!!
- there for they’re (not quite as prevalent, but still done in many places)
These are both contractions, so there shouldn’t be any reason why people constantly confuse them with pronouns. If you think you’re comes from you are then it’s easy to write the correct spelling. If you remember they are becomes they’re then that should also be easy. If writers would only check to make sure they are not wanting to use a pronoun then this mistake might be lessened.
Second, I’ll talk about the writing mistakes I have seen as an editor. I wear two hats and I do editing for another publisher. Many writers have this mistake:
- Run on sentences
What is a run on sentence? It’s one that has too many parts to it. You can have a compound sentence which is connected with a conjunction like and, or because. However, if you have a sentence with more than one conjunction in it, chances are it’s a run on sentence:
Example: He ran down the street, and found his car, and zoomed into the distance.
Many times I have seen sentences like this with the commas in the right place, but the author needs to start a new sentence. With sentences like this you as the reader can barely take a breath or think. A whole series of sentences like this, unless you want your character to sound manic or your own writing to have a manic feel to it, is unnecessary.
You can easily delete the second and by rewriting the sentence:
He ran down the street, found his car and zoomed into the distance.
Running down the street he found his car and zoomed into the distance.
Just several ways to rewrite this kind of sentence.
The other problem I see a lot is using a pronoun in a confusing way. If you give the name of your character at the beginning of the paragraph and then use a pronoun throughout the rest of the paragraph, it is possible to get confused as a reader. This is especially true if you introduce another character of the same sex and so you need to make sure you are clarifying the character about whom you are talking.
The other mistake is using the word just too many times.
Using this word should be kept to a few times in your writing. Otherwise your writing becomes diluted.
So these are the three big mistakes I see in other people’s writing.
Now in the interest of honesty I will say what mistakes I have made in my writing.
- using that too many times in too many places
Now that I see this trait in my own writing I have been able to erase it in other people’s writing as well. It’s using the word before almost every noun. So instead of saying the house, it says that the house. The way to rid your writing of this problem is to go through and see if that is really needed for meaning in the sentence. When my editor first went through my novel she told me there were too many “that’s”. She said to do a search with Find and eliminate almost all of them. I had no idea I had written so many of them and no one who had read my work before my editor had mentioned this. After I edited my own work I looked for this problem in the work of the authors I edited and many authors have this problem.:)
- Using a character’s name too many times in conversation.
Starting every sentence with the character’s name only makes the reader wonder why you, the author, think they are so stupid they can’t remember the character. So only mention it if you want to differentiate between two or more characters in a conversation. Dialogue is so much better when it’s more natural. Think about speaking with someone and you don’t usually mention their name that much.
Speaking of editing, I am very pleased with both my editor, Nancy Bell, and my publisher, Lea Schizas, who made sure my novel was 100 per cent ready for my readers’ eyes. My young adult novel, If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor, is available on both Muse and Amazon as well as Barnes and Noble.
Now I would be interested in knowing what are your writing pet peeves. Please leave a comment and let me know. And I hope if you haven’t read my book yet, you will go ahead and see how well edited this book is.:)