Over the past few weeks, the staff here at Midnight Publishing has been discussing some of the most frequent “writing mistakes” we’ve come across in our clients’ work (and sometimes our own writing!). And, as always, if you’re curious about your own strengths and weaknesses in writing, please never hesitate to contact Midnight Publishing’s group of professional, award-winning editors and authors to discuss a free sample edit of your first 1,000 words! (Or if you have an idea for a ghostwritten fiction book, or need help organizing and embellishing your personal memoir, or want a marketing plan for your self-published book release…). We’re here for each and every editing, ghostwriting and marketing need you have on your publishing journey! Now, here we go:
Writing Mistake to Avoid #1: Overuse of Pronouns
Essentially, when we say that a writer is overusing pronouns, it’s typically in a conversation or interaction between two (or more) characters of the same gender. Things can very quickly become muddled if character names aren’t used to designate who is speaking, thinking, performing the actions, etc.
An example of the overuse of pronouns in an interaction would be something like this:
John and Sam were sitting in the kitchen. John really wanted to talk about what he’d done in the last ten years, but he seemed more interested in rehashing the days of their childhood. He was saddened by the fact that he couldn’t share all of the successes of the past decade with him—but alas, Sam didn’t seem to care.
The bolded “he’s” and “him” are examples of pronoun use that can lead to confusion because the readers are unsure of who is being referred to!
This is the correct way to write the interaction:
John and Sam were sitting in the kitchen. John really wanted to talk about what he’d done in the last ten years, but Sam seemed more interested in rehashing the days of their childhood. John was saddened by the fact that he couldn’t share all of the successes of the past decade with Sam—but alas, Sam didn’t seem to care.
Often, to remedy pronoun confusion, it is easily fixed by using the name of the person, place or thing that may be causing the misinterpretation.
Writing Mistake to Avoid #2: Overuse of Fancy Words
Stephen King describes this writing mistake best in his “On Writing” how-to book:
“One of the really bad things you can do to your writing is to dress up the vocabulary, looking for long words because you’re maybe a little bit ashamed of your short ones. This is like dressing up a household pet in evening clothes. The pet is embarrassed and the person who committed this act of premeditated cuteness should be even more embarrassed.”
Essentially, what he’s saying is that using “long” words that sound fancy and showcase a wide vocabulary won’t make you seem like a “qualified, good” author—in fact, they might throw the reader out of the story and make for a poor reading experience.
Example of “fancy words” in a sentence:
The dress was sinopia, and the princess loved spinning in spheres around the viridescent garden.
Here it is, revised with common English:
The dress was red, and the princess loved spinning in circles around the bright green garden.
Often, these “fancy” words are adjectives or nouns that many in modern times aren’t familiar with. They only serve to distract the reader from the story, or, in the worst case, cause a reader to doubt the author’s confidence in their own writing and message. So if the dress is red, or the person is angry, or the house is small, just say so.
Come back next time for Midnight Publishing’s final post on writing mistakes and how to avoid them…and when your manuscript is ready for our professional editing help, contact us for a free sample edit of your first 1,000 words. As the top team of Arizona writing, editing and marketing professionals in Phoenix, we can’t wait to help!
King, Stephen. On Writing. Charles Scribner’s Sons. 2000.