TEN WRITING MISTAKES THAT MAKE YOU LOOK DUMB AND ANNOY ME:
(Please correct me if I’m wrong)
1. Your vs. You’re
o “Your” is possessive as in “your mistake.”
o “You’re” is a contraction for “you are” as in “you’re making a dumb mistake.”
2. It’s vs. Its
o “It’s” is a contraction for “it is” or “it has” as in “it’s difficult to read.”
o “Its” is possessive as in “its plot is good though.”
3. There vs. Their vs. They’re
o “There” is used for “put it there” or “there is no excuse.”
o “Their” is possessive as in “their writing.”
o “They’re” is a contraction for “they are.”
4. Loose vs. Lose
o “Loose” is the opposite of tight.
o “Lose” is the opposite of win.
5. A lot vs. Alot vs. Allot
o “A lot” means you have much of something.
o “Alot” isn’t a real word.
o “Allot” basically means to give or assign.
6. Lay vs. Lie
o Incorrect: I had to lay down.
o Correct: I had to lie down.
o Correct: Lay the pen down.
7. Then vs Than
o “Then” is used as in “We did this, and then we did that.”
o “Than” is generally used with “more than” or “less than.”
8. Could of (Would of) vs. Could Have (Would Have)
o “Could of” and “would of” are just what it sounds like sometimes.
o “Could have” and “would have” or the contractions “could’ve” and “would’ve” are correct.
9. Affect vs. Effect
o Noun: Aneffectis the result of somethingaffecting something else.
o Verb: Toaffectbasically means to “change.”
o Noun: An affect is “an artificial air someone puts on.”
10. Two vs. Too vs. To
o “Two” is a number that comes after one.
o “Too” means also or is used like “too many” or “too much.”
o “To” is pretty much everything else.
OTHER THINGS THAT DRIVE ME CRAZY:
1. Dialogue! (for the most part,this is the preferred format)
o Start a new paragraph for each new speaker.
o After opening quotes, begin with a capital letter.
o Place some form of punctuation (usually commas) before closing quotes, which are often followed by lower-case letters. (If you are not following it with any variation of "he said" use a period instead and begin with a capital letter).
o For a list of words that mean said, go here so as not to overuse it:http://www.iss.k12.nc.us/writing/said.htm
o Example: “You’re stupid,” she laughs, rolling her eyes.
2. Texting lingo has no place in formal writing. Yes, I know this is just an anonymous online site, but really? I’m pretty sure most of us are too old to be typing like we did on AIM. (Or too young to know what AIM is and in that case, you’re still in school. Listen to your teachers.)
o I cringe at these and it’s only the beginning of a long list: plz, ur, r, i, favrt, wat, nd
3. An ellipsis is THREE periods. There is no reason to type out half a line of them. We get the idea.
o “I… uh… have no idea why people do that.”
TYPE IT IN A WORD PROCESSOR FIRST!
THEN CHECK THIS STUFF:
1. The 10 mistakes I mentioned will more than likely go unnoticed by your computer so carefully look for those.
2. Other correct-but-misused words could include “form” instead of “from” or “brining” instead of “bringing” or “you’re” instead of “you’ve” for example.
3. Tense shift within a paragraph. You can change tenses within a story/chapter/etcetera but it is generally frowned upon to do so within a paragraph. (Don’t do it in a sentence either, but your computer should catch that one).
4. Does your dialogue sound like something your character would actually say? Reading it aloud really helps and sometimes you’ll hear yourself saying something that no one would ever say in real life.
5. Description: Show, don’t tell. Have you allowed the reader to picture the scene without stopping the action to insert large paragraphs of description? (This is more preference than correctness though, but it’s something I tend to remark on)
Please feel free to post questions and/or links to your writing (after you’ve edited yourself using these tips) below. I also have an editing e-mail (LetMeEdit@yahoo.com) where you can attach documents that you’d like me to look over.
OTHER HELPFUL LINKS:
http://www.iss.k12.nc.us/writing/deadwords.htmlists "dead" or overused words like "also" and "very" and suggested replacements.
http://www.iss.k12.nc.us/writing/transitional.htmgives alternate transition words to keep your writing from getting too repetitive.