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Quick Fix: 5 Writing Mistakes You Should Avoid

Hey there folks. We know you’re busy, so we decided a short writing article would be good this week. Today we are covering five writing mistakes you should avoid. Let’s jump right into it!

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5. Using The Word ‘That’ And Other Filler Words

This is a simple error, but it drives editors crazy. A good rule of thumb is, if the sentence reads the same without the word, it’s not needed.

Example:

  • Bad: He ran so fast that he couldn’t slow down in time, which caused him to trip over the log that he couldn’t avoid.
  • Good: He ran so fast he couldn’t slow down in time, which caused him to trip over the log he couldn’t avoid.

Of course, “that” isn’t the only word you should use sparingly. Below are a list of other filler words you should cut from your writing to clear up your prose.

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4. Using Passive Voice Instead Of Active Voice 

This is a bit tougher to follow. Many tend to use passive voice a lot when they first start their writing journey without realizing it.

Example of passive vs active voice:

  • Passive: The boy was bit on the ankle by a dog.
  • Active: The dog bit the boy’s ankle.

A quick and dirty tip to correct some forms of passive voice is to add “by zombies” after the verb. If it makes sense, you are using passive voice. For instance, “The letter will be mailed ‘by zombies.'” Now, if you say, “He mailed ‘by zombies’ the letter” It makes no sense. This isn’t a full proof method, but it is helpful.

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3. If You’re Using The Thesaurus Often, You’re Using The Wrong Words

Unless you enjoy learning new words and using them in everyday conversation, you shouldn’t hit up the thesaurus so much. While using large or lesser known words can be beneficial in certain genres, it usually causes the average reader to lose interest. You don’t need to keep things overly simplistic, but you shouldn’t go all James Joyce with your prose, either. Your beta readers will gladly let you know when you’ve gone overboard with the unnecessary vocabulary.

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The opening paragraphs of James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake.

2. Overusing Adverbs

We don’t need to go too much into this one. All great writers say you should use adverbs sparingly in your work. That doesn’t mean you must avoid them all together, but you do need to be smart in how you use them. Check out this list of the most used adverbs by a few famous authors.

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1. Writing With No Destination In Mind

There’s a running debate on what process is best for creating a great story: outlining your story or letting the creativity flow by coming up with the story as you go. While being a “discovery writer or pantser” has it’s benefits creatively, it can cause a lot of plot problems down the line. Even if you prefer to write by the seat of your pants, it’s best to have some idea of where your story is going. Writing without direction can lead you to a roadblock. That’s never a good thing. plotter vs pantser.png

If you found this short piece helpful, share it. Then check out these other great writing articles.

Understanding The Different Types Of Heroes And Villains

4 Things You Should Do Every Year To Improve Your Writing

What Makes A Good Horror Story?

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