Common Errors in Writing

Updated on November 23, 2018
angela_michelle profile image

Angela is an avid reader who studied English Literature in college. She has a passion for the written word and loves literature.

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We have all heard of KISS... Keep It Simple Stupid, or the nicer Keep It Simple Silly. This saying applies to all of our writing, whether we are writing a haiku or a thesis for our graduate program. It is very important that we keep our writing simple and precise. Often times we fall in love with our wording, which is very dangerous when attempting to publish our work. Cutting a dearly loved sentence, will not take away the artistic element of the piece if that sentence is unnecessary. Knowing when to cut out a word, sentence, or even full paragraphs will enhance the aesthetic quality. Here are some ways to recognize when it is important to press the delete button.

Writing Simple Sentences

Beware of Redundancy: Redundancy is a very common mistake in writing. By repeating what's already been stated can cause a paragraph to sound awkward or wordy. One way of avoiding this may be to combine two sentences into one. Here is a good example:

2 Sentences: I went to the zoo with my daughter. At the zoo, her favorite animals were the monkeys.

1 Sentence: My daughter's favorite animals were the monkeys when we went to the zoo.

It's shorter and sounds more appealing.

Use One Word Rather Than Three Words: To avoid redundancy it may be necessary to compact the wording. A story flows more evenly and keeps the reader's interest when a writer can use one word instead of a phrase to convey the same thing. A thesaurus becomes very useful in helping with this. Often times, a writer in their first draft may find themselves defining the word itself rather than using the word they intended. For example:

The 'smells that filled the air' reminded me of a nice spring morn.
versus
The aroma reminded me of a nice spring morn.

The second sentence adds to the imagery and sounds more elegant.

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Writing Fiction Tips

Make Sure It Contributes to the Story: Another common mistake among writers, especially when writing fiction is adding irrelevant details to the story. What we write should strengthen the integrity of the story or article, not detract. Authors may run into this, because they like the way it sounds, not because it is relevant to the story. Some of the early 1900 writers are guilty of this as they spend chapters describing the scenery. Although it's beautiful, it can become dry after a while, and takes away from the easy flow of the story.

Another example of this might be if two characters are having a very insightful conversation. Often times a writer might say,

As I pushed the door open, I glanced across the room in search for my young friend in his early twenties. Once I saw him, I walked past the young blonde waitress wearing a red checkered apron. I took my hand and flourished it above the seat dusting it before I sat across from him.

Most of what is written will not contribute to the story, especially if the waitress mentioned, never appears before or after in the story. Before you write, think about your purpose. This will help add details that sound nice, without adding superfluous information. For example, if the intent is to add suspense, then it would be wiser to write words that indirectly describe his feelings.

I wrung my hands like they were a dish towel as I approached my friend. The waitress taking orders was irritatingly peppy and I could only hope that she wasn't mine. As I sat down across my friend, I dusted the seat trying to postpone the inevitable.

The wringing of hands shows nervousness about something, which adds relevant information. Although similar to flourishing your hand over the seat to dust it off, wringing of hands sets a mood. The flourishing of the hand is just extraneous detail. Any details added to the story should contribute to the overall tone.

In the second paragraph, the mention of the waitress is important, whereas it is not in the first paragraph. Even though the waitress will not appear later in the story, the second paragraph uses this character wisely. By describing her as "irritatingly peppy," it shows that the main character is on edge.

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Editing Your Writing

Beware of Using Unnecessary Words: A common mistake many people make is using unnecessary words. Therefore, it is important that when editing, to read through articles to eliminate extra words. Some common superfluous words are just, so, that, to name a few. Do a search in Windows of these words, then read the sentence without the word, and decide if the word is necessary. For example:

So, as I was just walking across my yard, I saw a beautiful new Harley that looked enticing to me to ride.
versus
As I was walking across my yard, I saw a beautiful new Harley enticing me to ride.

By deleting these extra words, your work is tighter and more readable. An editor will appreciate your attentiveness.

Just like many of you, I often fall in love with my writing. I will write what I feel is a captivating sentence. When told the sentence is utterly useless, I feel tension at just the mere thought of cutting it. But in all reality, most of the time, when cutting words it actually makes a story, an article, or any other writing stronger.

Questions & Answers

    © 2010 Angela Michelle Schultz

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      • angela_michelle profile imageAUTHOR

        Angela Michelle Schultz 

        7 years ago from United States

        Thank you so much!

      • alekhouse profile image

        Nancy Hinchliff 

        7 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

        Interesting and informative. Thanks.

      • angela_michelle profile imageAUTHOR

        Angela Michelle Schultz 

        7 years ago from United States

        Thanks, I hope something that was said was helpful. :)

      • dusy7969 profile image

        dusy7969 

        7 years ago from San Diego, California

        Great article.You tell above the good tips for writing.I want become a good writer.So thanks a lot for this informative and wonderful sharing.

      • angela_michelle profile imageAUTHOR

        Angela Michelle Schultz 

        7 years ago from United States

        Thank you, I'm glad to hear it helped.

      • angela_michelle profile imageAUTHOR

        Angela Michelle Schultz 

        7 years ago from United States

        Sure, I would love to, but I can't find your hubpages!

      • s_joyjeet profile image

        s_joyjeet 

        7 years ago from New delhi

        That was really helpful. Thank you and good work.

      • profile image

        ROB 

        7 years ago

        I am on my first hub page.You make very good points

        if you have time check me out,I would be interested

        in what you think.thank you good read.

      • angela_michelle profile imageAUTHOR

        Angela Michelle Schultz 

        8 years ago from United States

        Thanks so much vrachel! I wrote about the thing I love the most. :)

      • vrachel profile image

        vrachel 

        8 years ago

        Great post!

      • angela_michelle profile imageAUTHOR

        Angela Michelle Schultz 

        8 years ago from United States

        I'm glad to hear that! I often have to reread my own hubs on writing, when I look over my work to see where I can make them better. Much of this stuff, is stuff I took notes on in writing courses.

      • profile image

        Dallas  

        8 years ago

        Another great hub!

        Thanks to you, I have acquired another "tool" in my writer's tool chest...

      • angela_michelle profile imageAUTHOR

        Angela Michelle Schultz 

        8 years ago from United States

        I'm glad, I've written other ones about things I've learned through various writing classes. I'm still a work in progress though. :)

      • daisyjae profile image

        daisyjae 

        8 years ago from Canada

        Thank you for this info, I found it helpful.

      • angela_michelle profile imageAUTHOR

        Angela Michelle Schultz 

        8 years ago from United States

        Exactly... Thank you Garnetbird!

      • GarnetBird profile image

        Gloria Siess 

        8 years ago from Wrightwood, California

        Writing is really re-writing. An author should never be afraid to go back and trim the fat, etc/Good advice!

      • angela_michelle profile imageAUTHOR

        Angela Michelle Schultz 

        8 years ago from United States

        thevoice, thank you very much. :)

      • angela_michelle profile imageAUTHOR

        Angela Michelle Schultz 

        8 years ago from United States

        Pamela, I am always proofreading my work as well, and I'm always finding ways to better it. I have a few other words that I always use unnecessarily too, that I didn't put in!

      • angela_michelle profile imageAUTHOR

        Angela Michelle Schultz 

        8 years ago from United States

        Remaniki Thank you very much for the nice compliment.

      • thevoice profile image

        thevoice 

        8 years ago from carthage ill

        terrific article thanks

      • Pamela99 profile image

        Pamela Oglesby 

        8 years ago from Sunny Florida

        Great suggestions for good writing. I am always going back to check my work before publishing it and invariably I am deleting the word 'that", so I relate to what you said. Good hub.

      • remaniki profile image

        Rema T V 

        8 years ago from Chennai, India

        Very useful article Angela. Thanks.

      • angela_michelle profile imageAUTHOR

        Angela Michelle Schultz 

        8 years ago from United States

        Thanks! I have so much trouble with this. My husband, when he wasn't going to grad school and working 60 hours a week, would proofread all my stuff for me. He probably crossed out more than he added to my papers. And by doing so, added a lot. I wish i was good at this, but I try to remind myself by writing such articles.

      • lmmartin profile image

        lmmartin 

        8 years ago from Alberta and Florida

        Never was there a truer concept than kiss. Or less is more. Or straightforward is best. (Not redundant but close.) Thanks for a good read and an interesting hub. I'll be back to read more. Lynda

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