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7 Writing Mistakes You Don’t Know You’re Doing

Top Writing Mistakes

You don’t make these killer errors … When you’re engrossed in writing your next masterpiece, it can be easy to let your grammar, punctuation and even spelling slide. Here are the top writing errors that even experienced writers make. Ready? Let’s go …

1) Misusing Phrases and Words

No matter how long a writer hones their craft, a few words and phrases consistently prove troublesome!  A common error, for example, is the phrase ‘for all intensive purposes’ when the correct expression is, ‘for all intents and purposes’ – unless your purposes are particularly intense?!

Another example is ‘escape goat’ when what you really intend to write is ‘scapegoat’. And for those who write, ‘I could care less’, don’t you mean, ‘I couldn’t care less’? Saying the former suggests you still care a little which contradicts the intended meaning of indifference.

And finally, there’s the confusion between ‘affect’ and ‘effect’. Remember, ‘A’ is for action, so ‘affect’ is the verb. ‘E’ is for the end result of the action so ‘effect’ is the noun. Hopefully, that settles the matter!

2) Apostrophe Catastrophe

These sneaky little punctuation marks often lead to mistakes, especially with possessive nouns and pronouns.

Take names ending in ‘s’, like James. Do you write ‘James’s car’ or ‘James’ car’?! Don’t worry, both are technically correct so, it’s whatever you prefer.

But what about the possessive form for plural nouns? Now here is another grammatical error that many writers make. It’s easy for certain nouns such as ‘children’ or ‘men’ or ‘women’ because you simply add the ‘s after each noun to form the possessive.

But what if I wanted to say that all of the shoes belonging to the football players looked dirty, how would I say that?

  • Correct: The football players’ trainers were dirty.
  • Incorrect: The football player’s trainers were dirty.

Why? Because we want to indicate possession of the trainers by all players, not just one.

3) Spelling Errors – Are You Guilty of These?!

Even the most seasoned writers can make spelling slip-ups now and then. Mixing up ‘their’, ‘there’, and ‘they’re’, or ‘your’ and ‘you’re’ are all common writing errors. ‘Lose’ and ‘loose’ get mixed up too (remember, ‘lose’ means failing to win while ‘loose’ means something that is not tied tight!)

Additionally, ‘definitely’ and ‘separate’ are often misspelled as ‘definately’ and ‘seperate’. Here are a few other mistakes to avoid:

  • Incorrect: ‘changable’ – correct: ‘changeable’
  • Incorrect ‘alot’ – correct: ‘a lot’
  • Incorrect: ‘argueing’ – correct: ‘arguing’

These blunders can lower trust with your reader and undermine your message, so make sure your spell-checker is turned on!

4) Changing Between Active and Passive Voice? Not So Fast!

This is one of the most common writing mistakes! In case you need a recap, active voice means the subject does the action such as, ‘The chef cooked a delicious meal’ and passive voice means the action happens to the subject, so, ‘A delicious meal was cooked by the chef’.

Here’s an example of how switching between the two voices can disrupt the flow of your writing: ‘The chef cooked a delicious meal. The meal was enjoyed by everyone at the table.’

Sounds off, right? In general, it’s best to write using active voice because it improves clarity and avoids unnecessary repetition, allowing your story to sparkle even more!

MORE: 1 Weird Trick To Avoid Using The Passive Voice In Your Writing

5) Did You Splice Your Comma?

A comma splice happens when you use a comma to connect two independent clauses without the help of a coordinating conjunction.

Wait … what’s an independent clause?! It’s a group of words that can stand alone as a complete sentence because it has both a subject and a verb.

For instance: ‘I love cake, I eat it every day’ is a comma splice because each clause can stand alone. The fix? Either add a conjunction (‘I love cake, and I eat it every day’) or use a semicolon (‘I love cake; I eat it every day’). This keeps your writing clear and error-free.

But why the heck does it matter?! Comma splices lead to disjointed and abrupt writing, making your story downright confusing for the reader.

6) Adverbs can be your adversary

Adverbs describe a verb, for example quickly, gracefully or effortlessly. Whilst they can be effective, it’s important to not overuse them, especially if they repeat the same meaning as the verb.

For example, what is the difference between saying ‘Sarah sat very still’ or ‘Sarah sat still’ – is it possible to be sitting still even more?!

Or how about, ‘Ross ran quickly to the library’? Deleting “quickly” doesn’t change our understanding that Ross is in a hurry.

Adverbs can also be a tell-tale sign of beginner’s writing. Take this line, ‘She smiled happily at her friend.’ Instead, it’s far more effective to show that the character is happy:

‘Her eyes lit up as she greeted her friend.’

In a nutshell, avoid overusing adverbs because they lead to redundant writing!

7) Whether It’s 1st or 3rd Perspective, Stick With One!

Choosing the perspective or point of view of your story significantly shapes the reader’s experience of the narrative.

First person, using ‘I’, creates a personal and intimate view into the protagonist’s thoughts and feelings, drawing readers closer to the character’s experiences.

On the other hand, third person, using ‘he’, ‘she’, or ‘they’, creates a broader perspective, allowing more flexibility to explore multiple characters and settings.

Whatever you choose, don’t jump between different points of view! It’s crucial to maintain a consistent narrative perspective throughout your story.

Not only do readers find it incredibly jarring and disorientating but it also signals a lack of planning in your story.

Good Luck!

BIO: Marie Barry is a writing fanatic and reading junkie who has studied English Literature for over a decade. Marie’s passion is encouraging more people to discover the wonders of writing, from writing novels to journalling!

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