Out of ten articles that list major errors of writers, I focused on four to look for when you revise your manuscript.
1. Commas in all the wrong places or missing completely.
We ate lunch, and went swimming.
Jane, Susie, Todd and Mary are the best readers in the class.
Did you know, Susie that Todd is absent today.
Here is a link to Blue Grammar Book with rules for commas and examples:
a. Words that sound alike but are spelled differently (homonyms) with different meanings: their, they’re, there; it’s, its; and whose, who’s. Horror of all horrors! I found two homonym errors in one of my manuscripts. I added a third to clarify the possibility of another mistake. Here is a list of Alan Cooper’s homonyms with definitions to help you choose the correct word: http://www.cooper.com/alan/homonym_list.html/. Can you find my errors in the following three sentences?
I turned it’s pages quickly.
They took off they’re coats.
Whose at the door?
b. Words that don’t sound alike but are still used incorrectly. Your mind may fail to recognize the need for a different word. Waylink English has a list of words that may confuse you: http://www.waylink-english.co.uk/?page=11500. In the following sentences, find the errors using these words: further, farther; lie, lay; and idol, idle.
I cannot walk any further.
Lie the book on my desk.
James is the idle of my life.
3. Main Character with No Fatal Flaw-fatal flaw comes from the opposite of what the good quality the protagonist acquires by the end of the story.
The protagonist lies all the time. During the course of the manuscript, he learns the value of truth. Lying and telling the truth are opposites. If you know what they learned, then the opposite of that is the main character’s flaw.
If the protagonist learns to be dependable, the flaw is he is irresponsible and not dependable at all.
If the protagonist finally gets up enough nerve to stand up for himself, he gains courage. The opposite of that is fear or cowardice for his fatal flaw.
Thinking about the theme(s) of your story will help you determine the flaws of your protagonist.
4. Repeating pet words or phrases numerous times within the manuscript with no purpose for emphasis, such as: just, real, very,what’s up, what do you know, and it’s a shame. Use your search and find tools in your word processing software to find words you know you usually repeat. Replace with a better word or delete it. Here are examples of words or phrases that might be repeated:
The box is very flat. The hills are very steep. Her veil is very long.
I just don’t know what I’m going to do…repeated on page 10, 13, 19, 21, 25, and 32.
What do you know?…repeated on page 6, 7, 8, 9, 15, and 17.
Here are links to the ten articles about a writer‘s errors. Use them if you want a thorough, intense study of possible errors. If you know a problem that has shown up in your work, ask your critique group to help you find them. The first link has hilarious errors in it. Enjoy it.
1. On the University of Minnesota website, Gordon Silverstein edited Humorous Reminders of Common Writing Mistakes: Advice from generations of Teaching Fellows at Harvard University–http://writing.umn.edu/tww/grammar/self_humorous.html
2. Dara Marks, The Writer’s Store: The Fatal Flaw, The Most Essential Element for Bringing Characters to Life–
3. Pat Holt: Ten Mistakes Writers Don’t See (But Can Easily Fix When They Do)–
4. Amanda Patterson: The Five Most Common Problems First Time Writers Share-
5. Alfonso Coley: Common Writing Problems New Writers Can Face–
6. Judy Rose, Writing English: Ten Common Writing Mistakes Your Spell Checker Won’t Find–http://writingenglish.wordpress.com/2006/09/18/ten-common-writing-mistakes-your-spell-checker-won%E2%80%99t-find/
7., Free Lance Folder: 20 Writing Mistakes That Make Any Freelancer Look Bad
8. Dr. Jeffrey Kahn, Illinois State University: Common Mistakes of English Grammar, Mechanics, and Punctuation
9. Tom Walker, writer and designer from the UK, Ten Most Common Writing Mistakes: http://www.getpaidtowriteonline.com/common-writing-mistakes/
10. E.H. Williams, Hamilton College, Biology Department, Common Writing Mistakes-
I hope these ideas help you keep going, even when you feel like giving up.
Please share your comments, questions, and/or resources below. I’d love to hear from you.
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Filed under: Writing | Tagged: Alan Cooper, Alfonso Coley, Amanda Patterson, Arts, Blue Grammar Book, commas, common writing errors, confusing words, Dara Marks, Dr. Jeffrey Kahn, freelancer, Gordon Silverstein, Grammar, Hamilton College, homonyms, Judy Rosel E.H. Williams, Languages, Laura Spencer, Linguistics, Look for Four Writing Errors When You Revise, manuscript, misspellings, Natural, no fatal flaw in protagonist, repeating words, replace or delete repeated words, Social Sciences, Spelling, Style Guides, The Writer's Store, Tom Walker, University of Minnesota, writer, Writing, written by Joan Y. Edwards |