Welcome back to another blog hop, with #OpenBook. Here’s this week’s prompt.
What are your top five writing mistakes? Either mistakes you make or mistakes that make you cringe when you see them in print?
First, some of the ones I have been guilty of, then a couple of my pet hates.
I tend to overuse certain words. Each one of my books will have one word that I seem to use in every sentence. It can be a different one in each book, an innocuous word like so, probably, seem. For some reason, they become part of just about every sentence that I write.
I’m getting used to the message from my editor, telling me which word I’ve overused in the latest manuscript I’ve sent her.
Then there are the plot holes. Try as I might the odd one creeps in, especially as series develop. And, as all good conspiracy theories tell you, there’s always someone watching.
“Didn’t you say ****** in *****.” someone will say. Then they move in for the kill, “and then you said ***** in ******, well, that doesn’t add up.”
Never mind that it’s three books later and that character is now dead. That’s my cue for some frantic checking. I used to agonise over changing it. Now, as long as it’s not too crucial, I leave them in; just to see how many other people spot them. Occasionally I offer a prize to anyone who can tell me when they see a mistake. After all, who has a perfect memory of what happened ten years ago? Or five-thousand years hence, on another planet?
Connected with that is a contradiction in setting, or describing the same place in different ways. For instance, saying a place can be seen from a point, then saying (or inferring) that it can’t. I know I’m guilty of doing this, which is ironic as I hate it in books that I’m reading.
Situations that are glossed over. I think we all know the expressions “with one bound, he was free,” or “the rest was easy.” They are a hangover from pulp fiction or Saturday morning cinema. With the hero in an impossible position, no effort is made to give him a logical way out. The action simply jumps. I hate that, I like to have an escape route. It may be improbable but there should always be a logical explanation for the character’s situation.
And finally, in this short list, the assumption that I know what the author is talking about. I want an explanation, a basis in fact. It’s the literary equivalent of an instruction manual written by an expert who knows all about the product and assumes that you do too. I don’t mean that you have to tell me everything. I only need to know enough to feel comfortable in the world you’ve created and be able to accept that it’s possible.
It’s a pity we’re limited to five, I could tell you a few more.
Now let me know what you think.
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