Mae Clair Presents: Common Writing Mistakes

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? I’m disappointed I couldn’t work it in this year, but from past experience, I can say it’s a huge motivator. I wrote most of A THOUSAND YESTERYEARS during NaNo two years ago, and that book is now under contract, scheduled to release in April of 2016. I’m presently knee deep in book two, A COLD TOMORROW, which is why I opted out of NaNo this time around.

I know many of my friends are participating and I’m cheering on each of you! Rah-Rah!
I thought as the month winds down, you might find these writing tips from Grammarly helpful. They’ve put together a snazzy infographic in honor of November’s writing fest. Check it out:

Five Mistakes To Avoid in Your NaNoWriMo Novel Infographic
What do you think? Do these five common mistakes trip you up now and again? The bane of my existence is the dreaded comma. I’m always misplacing those buggers or skipping them altogether. Fortunately, I have a great editor who keeps me in line. Hopefully, I’m gaining a better grasp on the pesky things.

Which mistake trips you up the most?

*Infographic provided courtesy of Grammarly

35 thoughts on “Mae Clair Presents: Common Writing Mistakes

  1. Wordiness is my vice, or rather, repetition (wordiness by default). During the first draft, however, it’s more a matter of vomiting the words out, to be tidied up later. Commas sometimes trip me up as well, and when I type too fast, I miss the articles πŸ™‚

    • I’m learning more about first drafts. I was always a polish-as-you-go writer but I’m finding that’s pretty much impossible with deadlines. So I’m vomiting words too now, Julie and tidying later. I know I’ll be cutting, tweaking and adding. I guess whatever gets it done, right?

  2. Grammar issues? Not so much. I’m kind of obsessive about those. But of all the problems you listed, I’d have to say wordiness is the one I have to work on the most. And, one you didn’t include, passive voice. If I can fix those two things, I think I’m in good shape. Great resource you included; I’m posting it to Pinterest. πŸ™‚

    • Passive voice is a good one to bring up, Staci. It’s so easy to have that slip into our writing. And I admit, I can be overly wordy, too, at times.

      I’m glad you found this helpful. Grammarly puts out these wonderful infographics on various topics every now and again and I usually receive notice of them by email. Thanks for posting on Pinterest!

  3. I disagree just a tad on the commas. I don’t think you can determine correct comma usage JUST by pauses. There are certain comma rules that shouldn’t be broken. And some you can fudge with just a little because of the pauses. I find incorrect comma usage is what I correct the most when I’m editing for clients. πŸ™‚

    • Ahh, so I see I’m not the only ones who trips over commas. Sounds like you’ve got a few clients who do, too. πŸ™‚ For me, I find myself placing the pause in different spots on each read, and each one seems to work so it’s kind of like a crap shoot. I’m making an effort to learn the hard and fast rules, but it’s nice to know, you can fudge a bit, too!

  4. It’s funny you post this today, because I’ve been struggling with an odd capitalization. Let me run it by you. Maybe you’ll know the answer. Which do you think is correct? Chucky boy or Chucky Boy when used as a nickname. I think the latter looks better, but I’m thinking the first is correct. Thoughts?

    • Good one, Sue. I’m not an expert on Grammar (maybe a few of my editor friends would like to weigh in), but here are my thoughts….If “boy” is part of the person’s name, “Chucky Boy” then it should be capitalized. If Chucky is his name and the person talking to him is just tossing “boy” in as part of the dialogue, then I don’t think it should be capped. Maybe we can get Staci or Lauralynn to offer an opinion since they edit. Ladies?

      • That’s what I was thinking too. The “boy” was tossed in as a snarky remark, so I’m thinking no capitalization. I’d love for your editor friends to weigh in before I have to run this by mine. πŸ˜€

      • I’m not sure there’s a hard and fast rule on this simply because you can view it either way…used as part of the name or a snarky remark. In a case like this, I usually do what feels right and conveys what I’m trying to say. Or what the character is trying to say. Is he being called “Chucky Boy” or called “Chucky” and the boy is separate? If the whole thing is a nickname, I’m leaning toward “Chucky Boy”. I think either will work.

  5. I was never taught grammar at school. Children were simply meant to absorb gramatical rules via osmosis, but I can tell you that process doesn’t work. I struggle with grammar all the time. Thankfully, I have a couple of fabulous editors who help me out. Thanks for sharing a very helpful the list, Mae.

    • That’s really something they didn’t teach grammar at your school, Daisy. We were definitely taught the fundamentals and more, but I admit, I’ve forgot a lot of the “rules.” And kudos to editors. Even though I make my drafts as whistle-clean as I can, my editor always manages to make them better. Glad you found the infographic helpful. Grammarly is great for stuff like this!

  6. I don’t have a lot of trouble with punctuation while writing a novel, but I do notice that social media and texting help me to become much more LAX with my commas. That is not a good thing, as it tends to bleed over into more formal situations.

    • That’s a great observation, Flossie. I actually use commas and punctuation when I text, but sometimes I think “do I really need to do this?” Having you mention that it could easily bleed into more formal writing now has me determined to continue the practice. The one I can’t always get around though is Twitter. Those 140 characters LOL!

      • Yes, true, and for me texting is a main culprit. My inner English teacher cringes at herself.

  7. I’m attempting NaNoWriMo for the first time, probably not going to reach the 50,000 words by month’s end, but it feels great to be writing.
    I was told previously by an editor I have a “comma deficiency” :).

  8. I’ve never been able to grasp the proper use of commas. Even as an editor I depend on my trusty, lovely line editors to catch what I don’t. I’m getting better, (do I need this one?) but they still trip me up often. I will add that one other thing to watch for is ellipses and emdashes. Those are my love-to-use-often-but-shouldn’ts. LOL

  9. Pingback: Friday Favorites | Stanalei Fletcher

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