How to Fix These Common Writing Mistakes Before You Publish

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 shrink from proudly sharing 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 several years as an editor, and how to fix them:

Inconsistency: Inconsistency 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 'Amma' in one sentence and 'Ama' in another. Such mistakes give a reader pause as they try to figure out if Amma and Ama are the same people. Consistent writing is important for clarity and easy flow, so before you publish, check for consistency throughout your writing.


To Fix This: 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 or do a search (Find and Replace in Microsoft Word) within your document for both spellings for an easy fix.


Using the Same Sentence Beginnings: Here's an example, Amma danced with Fred. Amma finished dancing with Fred and went to the bar for a drink. Amma asked Fred if he wanted one too. Amma gasped when he saw Destin at the bar and quickly ducked for cover. That's one too many Ammas at the beginning of the sentences. Writing like this takes the fun out of reading and easily bores readers. It also makes an author seem amateurish.


To Fix This: Substitute your Freds with the appropriate pronoun - in this case, 'he' - and read over your work multiple times to catch other repetitions.


Overusing Passive Voice: 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. Identifying passive voice is easy if you check your work by reading it out aloud. Here's an example of passive voice in a sentence, "The car was driven by Amma." Or, an even longer sentence, "The car was driven by Amma who showed up at Fred's house after he gave her an invitation to come over. " There's too much for the reader to dismantle in this sentence, an easier read would be, "Amma drove the car." Or, "Amma drove the car to Fred's house after he invited her to come over. "


To Fix This: 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 out aloud.


Ultimately, it is good to remember that while there are writing errors hidden within the pages of your manuscript that often take the eye of a professional to weed out, there are also those you can catch by simply taking the time to self-edit 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. After you have self-edited your work with multiple reads, have a professional editor look over your manuscript before your story heads to publication. An editor will catch the things you missed.

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