First off–A DISCLAIMER–I’m not an editor nor do I have any editing background. Upon correcting my MS, I see these mistakes highlighted repeatedly by my editor and would like to pass it on to anyone else with grammatical disability*.
(I’m probably making grammatical mistakes even just explaining this to you.)
Like I’ve said before, I have tried…tried to learn how to revise every common mistake new writers make. I’ve read all the blogs on revising advice and I’m still so shocked that there were so many corrections! Well, maybe you can learn from me…hopefully I’m learning something through this all so that I won’t make these same mistakes with my next novel.
TOP MISTAKES I’VE MADE:
TOWARDS- I always spoke with a plural on the end of this one…note to self: it is toward.
COMMA BEFORE BUT- I thought it was a general rule that whenever you used but in a sentence, you needed a comma before it but not always so. Only if the group of words following the but is independent the comma is used. (Notice I didn’t use a comma above–there may be hope yet!)
DON’T OVERUSE EXCLAMATIONS! – Whenever my characters were upset, I used exclamations for the whole tangent when I’ve been told it is overkill. Use them sparingly and let your dialogue convey the anger instead.
CUT GARBAGE TAGS- These tags should be used sparingly: says, continues, and finishes.
CUT REDUNDANT ACTION- With actions such as ‘nods his head’ you should always cut out the obvious ‘his head’ since nods is self-explanatory. (I already knew this one but you’d be surprised how they disappear into the text)
NO SPACE AFTER ELLIPSIS- When using an ellipsis in a sentence there is no space between the end of the ellipsis and the next word.
POSSESSIVES- When you put a possessive at the end of a name that ends in an ‘s’ that doesn’t have the hard ‘z’ sound you must add an apostrophe ‘s’ to the ending. Example: Sokarisis’s dream chamber.
OVERUSING ‘THEN’ IN ACTION- My editor pointed out the abundance of ‘then’ in my action sequences and pointed out that it’s better to just allow the action to flow without it.
I HEAR, I FEEL, I SEE- It is extremely hard to resist using these when writing first person present, but as my editor pointed out using these makes someone feel like ‘they’re trapped in a long car ride with someone who is only talking about themselves.” Allow the reader to experience the action outside of the first person’s head as much as possible.
SLIPPING TENSES- I originally wrote my novel in first person past tense, but after a workshop everyone agreed it would feel much more immediate if it was in present tense. I seem to naturally write in past tense so I find whenever I rewrite I slip into past tense again. Thankfully, my amazing editor always found the slip-ups.
SEMI-COLONS AND COLONS- Still haven’t seemed to fully understand when they should be used. I get corrected 50% of the time…will have to study these more.
Oh well, that’s about all the grammatical talk I can tolerate. I still can’t fathom how people like my editor can just spot these things so perfectly. I have a feeling my disability has to do with my ADD, since I seem to get so hyper-focused into the story that I can over-look most errors. However, lucky for me, I have a superhero editor who will make it possible for me to self-publish in spite of my grammatical kryptonite.
*Don’t know if grammar disabilities do exist but I’m sure if there was a test, I just might qualify for it.