Sometimes it can seem like your editor is angrily scribbling red all over your manuscript. Here are 5 things you can look for yourself to help out your editor and make your manuscript cleaner!
Inconsistency is when you wrote one thing, but then turned around and wrote another. It can be difficult to catch sometimes, and can be as simple as mispellings of names, or as glaring as getting your facts wrong. Keep your eye out for these things as you do re-reads and save your editor a little bit of time and hassle!
2. Using 'it'.
The worst thing you can do when writing is use the word 'it' in regards to pronouns. I see this a lot with some manuscripts. Instead of describing genders or giving names, some authors use a non-descript 'it', especially when trying to convey a sense of mysteriousness in their writing. Stop doing this! Be specific about what you're describing. Use specific words, places, genders, whatever! Move away from too much 'it'.
3. Sentence Splices.
This is particularly annoying, and sometimes difficult to catch. This happens when a sentence gets cut in half. It often is the result of needing a comma instead of a period. This is easy to find, if you're not sure, by asking what is the subject and verb of this sentence? If you can't find it or don't know, it's very possible you've got a splice. Also look for misplaced -ing words. They tend to be the beacon to alert for cut-up sentences.
4. Passive voice.
This is one that I really hate as an editor. It makes the story feel 'far away', as if it's happening in a round about and distant way. A good example of this is something like, 'the bone was eaten by the dog.' Grammatically, there's nothing wrong with the sentence, but it lacks a sense of action, which is important in story-telling. A much more impactful way to say this is, 'the dog ate the bone.' It can be hard to pick up on sometimes, but if you're finding that your action is lacking, look for sentences written with passive voice.
5. Apostrophes and Possession.
This can be mostly summarized with one example: its versus it's. An apostrophe almost always denotes possession. Sally's brush, the house's ceiling, etc. If the subject of your sentence isn't possessing something, then there is no reason for an apostrophe. So stahp it!
What are some common mistakes that you notice in your writing?