Two Common Writing Mistakes

A Review of Common Mistakes While Writing

My one friend decided to write his own book, too, so I said, “Hey, let me see what you got!” And so he did, and immediately, the finer grammarian hairs on my neck stood up. Though I don’t take such things as seriously as other, I do find massive grammar mistakes and habits something to be weary of. I said as much to him. Then I decided that maybe I’d post the advice for all those who may have started similar missteps.

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For the most part, with a lot of writing, you learn as you do it. You start to see how to make a tighter sentence, how you can sometimes be redundant, and how to make things clearer. But even I have noticed certain quirks in my own writing that are more maybe bad habits than actual style.

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One thing I picked up a lot in many books is comma splices. Thought they didn’t use them in the narration as much as they did in the dialogue, any appearance of them can be offsetting. I couldn’t remember any specifically, so I made some up to illustrate.

One example: “I really need that box from the top shelf, can you get it for me?”

Though they may be related in context, they are actually two independent clauses and should either be separated with a period or be conjoined by a semi-colon. As for the latter solution, I want to warn you: too many semi-colons can also get annoying. Personally, I avoid use one, maybe two, in an entire manuscript. They are tricky to use and can get too repetitive quickly.

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Secondly, there is the habit of using ‘then’ as a coordinating conjunction. I’m not sure how much of this you all know. The only way I have any knowledge of it is because I teach it. Quickly, it’s easy to remember coordinating conjunctions by the acronym, FANBOYS. That stands for ‘For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet, and So.’ These are the only words that can join two independent clauses into compound ones. Notice there is no ‘T.’ That’s because ‘then’ isn’t one of them. ‘Then’ is called a transition word and can only be used at the beginning of a sentence.

Example: I went to school, then saw her waiting for me.

This doesn’t work here. You can separate it, making two individual sentences or you can add ‘and,’ like ‘I went to school and then saw her waiting for me.

Again with the two rules I’ve shared, there’s always times to break them and do something different, but all in all, you want to stick to them and not develop bad habits that turn off a surprisingly vast amount of readers.

Hope that helped.

 

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