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Common Errors In Writing

Updated on August 03, 2016
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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 as far as a potential publishing goes. We often are afraid that if we cut a sentence that we love, we are taking away the artistic element of our work. Ironically, it is knowing when to cut out a word, sentence, or even full paragraphs that will enhance the aesthetic quality. Here are some ways to recognize when it is important to cut your work!

Writing Simple Sentences

Beware of Redundancy: One of the most common mistakes in writing is being redundant. By repeating yourself, it can make a paragraph sound awkward, or too 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 it sounds better.

Use One Word Rather Than Three Words: Avoiding redundancy is one way to keep sentences simple, another is to compact your wording. By keeping sentences less wordy, the story flows more evenly and keeps the reader's interest. 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.
Vs.
The aroma reminded me of a nice spring morn.

The second sentence flows much better, which is often the case when you shorten your wording.

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Writing Fiction Tips

Make Sure It Contributes to the Story: Another common mistake among writers, especially ones 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 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 adding relevant information. Although this is similar to flourishing your hand over the seat to dust it off, the difference is that wringing of the hands sets a mood, whereas the flourishing of the hand is just extra detail. Any details added to your story should contribute to the overall tone of the story.

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. On the other hand, the first paragraph's description of the waitress does not add anything to the narrative.

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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 you are editing, to take a special read through of your articles to eliminate these extra words. Some common superfluous words are just, so, that, to name a few. If you know these are common extra words that you use, do a search in Windows or other program that you are using for these words. The program will scan the words, and then you can read the sentence without the word, and see if the word is necessary. Take for example the following:

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

© 2010 Angela Michelle

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    • angela_michelle profile image
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      Angela Michelle 5 years ago from United States

      Thank you so much!

    • alekhouse profile image

      Nancy Hinchliff 5 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

      Interesting and informative. Thanks.

    • angela_michelle profile image
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      Angela Michelle 5 years ago from United States

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

    • dusy7969 profile image

      dusy7969 5 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 image
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      Angela Michelle 5 years ago from United States

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

    • angela_michelle profile image
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      Angela Michelle 5 years ago from United States

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

    • s_joyjeet profile image

      s_joyjeet 5 years ago from New delhi

      That was really helpful. Thank you and good work.

    • ROB 5 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 image
      Author

      Angela Michelle 6 years ago from United States

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

    • vrachel profile image

      vrachel 6 years ago

      Great post!

    • angela_michelle profile image
      Author

      Angela Michelle 6 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.

    • Dallas  6 years ago

      Another great hub!

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

    • angela_michelle profile image
      Author

      Angela Michelle 6 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 6 years ago from Canada

      Thank you for this info, I found it helpful.

    • angela_michelle profile image
      Author

      Angela Michelle 6 years ago from United States

      Exactly... Thank you Garnetbird!

    • GarnetBird profile image

      Gloria Loftus- Siess 6 years ago from Northern 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 image
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      Angela Michelle 6 years ago from United States

      thevoice, thank you very much. :)

    • angela_michelle profile image
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      Angela Michelle 6 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 image
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      Angela Michelle 6 years ago from United States

      Remaniki Thank you very much for the nice compliment.

    • thevoice profile image

      thevoice 6 years ago from carthage ill

      terrific article thanks

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 6 years ago from United States

      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 6 years ago from Chennai, India

      Very useful article Angela. Thanks.

    • angela_michelle profile image
      Author

      Angela Michelle 6 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 6 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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