Skip to main content

Common Errors in Writing

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

We have all heard of KISS... Keep It Simple Stupid, or the nicer Keep It Simple Silly. This saying applies whether we are writing a haiku or a thesis for a graduate program. We must keep our writing precise and straightforward. Often 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 entire paragraph will enhance the aesthetic quality. Here are some ways to recognize when it is essential to press the delete button.

Writing Simple Sentences

Beware of Redundancy: Redundancy is a prevalent mistake in writing, which causes 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: Compacting the wording to avoid redundancy may be necessary. 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, 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 pleasant spring morn.


The aroma reminded me of a pleasant spring morn.

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

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 how 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 smooth flow of the story.

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

As I pushed the door open, I glanced across the room in search of 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.

If the waitress mentioned never appears before or after in the story, it does not contribute to the story. Before you write, think about your purpose. Knowing your goal will help add details that sound nice without adding excessive information. For example, if the intent is to add suspense, it would be wiser to write words that indirectly describe his feelings.

I wrung my hands like they were a dishtowel 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, the 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 essential, 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. Describing her as "irritatingly peppy" shows that the main character is on edge.

Editing Your Writing

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

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


As I was walking across my yard, I saw a beautiful new Harley enticing me to ride.

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

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 makes a story, an article, or any other writing stronger.

© 2010 Angela Michelle Schultz


Angela Michelle Schultz (author) from United States on October 17, 2011:

Thank you so much!

Nancy Hinchliff from Essex Junction, Vermont on October 16, 2011:

Interesting and informative. Thanks.

Angela Michelle Schultz (author) from United States on May 16, 2011:

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

dusy7969 from San Diego, California on May 16, 2011:

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 Schultz (author) from United States on April 25, 2011:

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

Angela Michelle Schultz (author) from United States on April 25, 2011:

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

s_joyjeet from New delhi on April 23, 2011:

That was really helpful. Thank you and good work.

ROB on April 22, 2011:

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 Schultz (author) from United States on October 02, 2010:

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

vrachel on October 01, 2010:

Great post!

Angela Michelle Schultz (author) from United States on June 05, 2010:

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.

Dallas on June 05, 2010:

Another great hub!

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

Angela Michelle Schultz (author) from United States on May 03, 2010:

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 from Canada on May 03, 2010:

Thank you for this info, I found it helpful.

Angela Michelle Schultz (author) from United States on April 11, 2010:

Exactly... Thank you Garnetbird!

Gloria Siess from Wrightwood, California on April 11, 2010:

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

Angela Michelle Schultz (author) from United States on April 07, 2010:

thevoice, thank you very much. :)

Angela Michelle Schultz (author) from United States on April 07, 2010:

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 Schultz (author) from United States on April 07, 2010:

Remaniki Thank you very much for the nice compliment.

thevoice from carthage ill on April 07, 2010:

terrific article thanks

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on April 07, 2010:

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.

Rema T V from Chennai, India on April 07, 2010:

Very useful article Angela. Thanks.

Angela Michelle Schultz (author) from United States on April 05, 2010:

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 from Alberta and Florida on April 05, 2010:

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