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10 Top Writing Errors And How To Avoid Them

10 Top Writing Errors and How to Avoid Them

image of girl with hands over face in regret

Ah, hindsight, that wonderful thing. (Image: Abigail Keenan via Unsplash.com)

We’ve all been there: discovered regrettable writing errors in our own work.

It’s not for nothing that juvenile or unfinished work is often suppressed or destroyed by authors who have gone on to become highly successful. The late Terry Pratchett, in inimitable style, went so far as to have his files destroyed by steamroller. That’s one way of eliminating writing errors.

But many writing errors are entirely avoidable, even for beginners. So to save you the expense of steamroller hire, we’ve compiled a list of our top ten rookie writing errors, nominated by ALLi author members to help others learn by their mistakes.

1) Believe family and friends who tell you your book is good – they’re responding to you, and it’s most likely you that they love, rather than the book (possibly they genuinely love your book too, but they’re not the most objective critics.

2) Expect short cuts or magic formulae will improve your writing. Sorry, no matter how many how-to books you read or quirky Facebook groups you join that claim to have all the answers, you need to put in many hours of apprenticeship and hard work to perfect your craft. If you’re not prepared to do that, lay down your pen/keyboard/dictating machine and walk away now…

3) Write the book of your heart and refuse to change a thing about it because it wouldn’t be true to your original vision. You’ve written the book, and well done for that, but think of it as your first draft which will now need polishing and honing to attract and please your readers.

4) Think you can be your own editor – hey, you’re self-publishing, aren’t you?  The term self-publishing doesn’t mean you do everything yourself. It’s just that you are your book’s project manager, and the buck stops with you – including responsibility for badly edited text!

5) Think that you auto-editors are adequate substitutes for editors with a pulse. There are lots of systems and apps to help you improve your text using only your computer, such as spellcheckers, grammar checkers, and writing style analyzers, and by all means use them to help you improve your writing, but a thinking editor will do so much more for you. Building a good relationship with a smart and supportive editor can be a real game-changer for your writing career.

6) Write a book that doesn’t fit a current genre. Ok, you can do that if you want to – that’s one of the prerogatives of being an indie, that you call the shots – but if you can massage your book to fit a clearly defined and well-recognized genre, it’ll have much great chances of success.

7) Mistake the genre that you think your book is in, and so try to present it and market it in an inappropriate manner. Find the right genre tribe for your book.

8) Target a clear genre – but then break all its rules. Again, it’s your prerogative to break rules if you want to, but be prepared that if you do, you will upset dedicated readers of that genre.

9) Think the writing effort stops with the final manuscript. Writing the supporting marketing material, from book blurb to author bio to blog posts, are all significant writing tasks in which you will need to invest thought and effort. Don’t fall at the last hurdle by dashing them off when your writing brain is exhausted – get them right to do justice to your book.

10) Think that all errors are embarrassing causes for regret. By sometimes failing in our writing, and by identifying and recognising our mistakes, we learn and grow as writers. Use a good editor for several books in a row, and if you take on board their comments with each new book, I bet you’ll find they’ll tell you with each new project, just how much you’ve grown as a writer.

With thanks to the many ALLi author members and editing professionals among our partner membership for their contributions to this discussion on our ALLi Facebook forum – a closed group accessible only to paid members as one of 21 member benefits. Interested in joining our Alliance? Find out more at our membership website here: www.allianceindependenauthors.org.

OVER TO YOU What top tip would you like to add to our list? Join the conversation and share your experience via our comments box!

#Indieauthors learn by their #writing mistakes - so fast-track your learning process by reading our 10 top rookie writing errors here! Collated from the #ALLi hive mind by @DebbieYoungBN Click To Tweet

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Debbie Young

Debbie Young writes warm, funny feel-good fiction, including the Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries series, which begins with the bestselling "Best Murder in Show". As ALLi's Author Advice Center Manager, she also writes guidebooks for authors. Founder and director of the Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival, she is a frequent speaker at other literary events. Find out more about Debbie's writing life on her author website www.authordebbieyoung.com.

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