Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Do you want to clean up your writing?

I enjoyed last week so much because many of you let me read your WIP. I didn't plan to do this, but since we learn from each other, I thought I would post some of the more common errors I came across--ones that I have had to learn myself not to do.

1. Putting period outside of quotes

2. Not using contractions in every day dialogue

3. Using quotes around phrases you want to stand out—better to drop them

4. Repetition—repeating the same idea in the same paragraph several times

5. Starting sentences with There was, this was, or that was rather than finding a stronger way

6. Weak beginnings

7. Ending doesn't have a hook to next chapter

8. POV shifts

9. Too much Telling and not enough showing

10. Using an –ly adverb + a weak verb instead of a stronger verb

11. Change in tense

12. Improper use of em dash

13. Too many dialogue tags

14. Repeating the same word in several close sentences

15. Using the phrases: at this point, the fact of the matter, in fact

16. Same sentence lengths, Break them up for variety

17. Punctuation error “Go there,” he said instead of “Go there.” He said.

21 comments:

Warren Baldwin said...

Very helpful. I added this link to the Writing Tips on my page. wb

Jessica said...

Thanks Terri! Those are common hang-ups we all need to avoid.:-)

Lin said...

great summary and reminder of errors to avoid. thanks

Jill Kemerer said...

I stand convicted of 13 and 14! Thanks so much for all of your help, Terri. You are awesome!!

Galen Kindley--Author said...

Gracious. I've made all those, and more. Sigh. I Know I do #17. Is it always wrong to do, "Go there," he said. How ashamed am I?

Do you offer editing services?

Best regards, Galen
Imagineering Fiction Blog

Greg C said...

I am just thankful that I didn't use them all in what I sent. Most of them yes, but not all of them. :)

Thanks for the help. Some of the mistakes I made were things I didn't know and should have asked about.

sherrinda said...

I am so glad I was able to give you fodder for a great blog! lol You had great suggestions and helped to tighten up my first chapter. Thanks!

Kristen Painter said...

Good list.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Great post, Terri. It seems no matter how many times I go over my manuscript, I pick up little things I can change.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Angie Ledbetter said...

Great nit list, Terri.

Kara said...

When I was writing constantly and going to classes and critique groups I was more aware of my errors. Now I've been away from all that and it's like I've lost all knowledge of those things! Thanks for the critique:)

Carmen said...

A very helpful reminder. Boy am I in trouble! I guess it's time to clean something other than my house.
;)

Andrea said...

Thank you.
andrea

Ching Ya said...

Hi Terri,
Very well shared. Great to learn from the pro. Coincidentally I've got a similar post up just yesterday, only it's about blogging. Looks like it's a week that we're reviewing our past mistakes and (hopefully) be better. ^^


@wchingya
Social/Blogging Tracker

Cindy said...

Terri, what a good list. Some of these things are still tough for me because I learned most of my writing knowledge from journalism classes, hence changing the rules on number 1 and a few others.

It's amazing how much we can learn from other writers and their work. Again, that was awesome that you did that!

Melissa Marsh said...

Great post, Terri. It's amazing how even seasoned writers can still do these small things.

Eileen Astels Watson said...

Sounds like you had fun. No matter how long I write, I bet I still do those errors over and over again even though I know better.

sarah said...

I really appreciate you and your blog is so helpful. Thank-you. Sarah

Jody Hedlund said...

Wow! You caught a lot of things! I'm sure God will bless you for all of your hard work critiquing for others--in the process you'll become a better writer!

BeckyJoie at Leaders in Learning said...

Very helpful list, Terri. Thanks for posting it.

Pat's Place said...

Great things to keep in mind! Another one that makes me cringe is talking about the past tense and saying, "I would go skating in the afternoon," instead of simply saying, "I went skating in the afternoon."