Updated: Feb 22
There are writing errors hidden within the pages of your manuscript that often take the eye of a professional to weed out, but there are also those you can catch by simply self-editing your own work. These mistakes should be addressed to ensure that your writing is vibrant, clear, and gets the message across in an enjoyable way because nothing turns a reader off faster than a slow-paced, unclear story that never gets to the heart of the matter.
When we edit our own work, there are certain mistakes we might miss, and I can tell you from experience that there's nothing more crushing than finding a typo in an already published piece of work. This can easily become a source of embarrassment, causing you to not widely share your work. The good news is that these kinds of situations are easily avoidable. I'm going to show you 3 writing mistakes I have come across in my many years of editing and how to fix them:
Mistake #1. Inconsistency: Inconsistency in writing is one of the easiest mistakes to spot in a piece of writing. Mostly because it makes readers pause in confusion. An example is spelling your character's name as 'Anne' in one sentence and 'Ann' in another. A reader pauses because they wonder if Anne and Ann are the same people. Consistent writing is important for clarity and easy flow, so before you publish, check for consistency throughout your writing.
Fix: Decide which spelling you wish to use in your story and make sure that your spellings are consistent throughout. The only way to fix inconsistency is to read over your work multiple times.
Mistake #2. Using the Same Sentence Beginnings: Here's an example, Fred danced with Alora. Fred then went to the bar for a drink and asked Alora if she wanted one too. Fred gasped when he saw Destin at the bar and quickly ducked for cover. That's too many Freds at the beginning of the sentence. Even if Fred is beginning multiple paragraphs throughout your story, a reader will be bored by the redundancy and lack of creativity in your writing.
Fix: Substitute your Freds with the appropriate pronoun - in this case, 'he' - and read over your work multiple times to catch other repetitions.
Mistake #3. Passive Voice Invasion: Passive voice isn't always a bad thing, but when overused, it can mess with your story's clarity and make it less poignant. Passive voice is when an object is used as the subject in a sentence and is easily identified if you're checking your own writing. Here's an example of passive voice in a sentence, "The cake was eaten by the guests." Or, an even longer sentence, "The cake was eaten by the guests who came to the party when an invitation was sent to them in the mail." There's too much to dismantle in this sentence by the reader when an easier read could simply say, "The guests ate the cake." Or, "The guests who were invited to the party, ate the cake."
Fix: Look for the word "by" followed by a noun. Another way to find if your work is loaded with passive voice is to read your manuscript aloud.
Ultimately, after you have self-edited your work with multiple reads, have a professional editor look over your manuscript for you before your story heads to publication. An editor will catch the things you may have missed.