I Do It Every Time — #MFRWauthor

Several years ago, early in my career, one of my editors told me I was an exceptionally clean writer. I loved hearing that and have tried since then to live up to that fallacy. I am almost obsessive about making sure my conflict is two-sided, my character motivation clear and strong, and all the logic flaws identified and removed before I’ll submit anything to an editor. and yet, even with my best efforts, there are things I do wrong in every single book.

This week’s prompt from the MFRWauthor blog challenge is to talk about common writing mistakes we make. I don’t care who you are or how talented or careful you are, there will always be mistakes.

hands-typingOne of my most common mistakes these days is missing letters. I have a new-ish computer (okay, it’s already a couple of years old, but new by my standards.) The keyboard is different from keyboards past. The keys aren’t as sensitive as keys on previous computers, and for some reason, I still haven’t adjusted to the touch I need to maintain to get all the keys to register as I’m typing.

If I’m watching the screen, as I am now, I’m conscious of what I’m writing and I’m aware of each letter. But let me get on a roll in a scene, so that my attention is on something besides the screen, and I’ll fail to press that “F” and “P” keys hard enough, which results in some pretty odd spelling and dialogue and narrative that rings of a badly written Irish accent.

Another mistake I make frequently is something I’ve been told by editors is quite common. I unconsciously choose a favorite phrase or two–usually something different for each book–and then repeat it…repeatedly. In one of my early mysteries, every character who had even a single line of dialogue said, “What on earth?” or “How on earth?” at least once in the book.

pen and paper smallIf I’m not repeating a catch phrase or two, I settle (again unconsciously) on a favorite letter or sound, so that an absurd number of characters, cities, and/or businesses begin with the same letter in my early drafts.

Luckily, these things are all mistakes I am now aware of and able to catch as I’m reading through the manuscript and/or editing scenes. And if I don’t catch them on my own, Beta readers will catch them for me.

Until my editors pointed it out and retrained my brain, I used to be really bad at establishing something important in dialogue and then reinforcing it in narrative, or vice versa. Again, it’s something I usually catch in my work now, but it took several books for me to learn to see it on my own.

I also tend t over-comma, at least if my editors and copy editors are to be believed.

Like I said, we all make them. It’s just a given. And no matter how careful an author is, or how many sets of eyes have looked at a manuscript, there will always be at least one typo in any book.

Writers, don’t leave me hanging on a limb by myself. Share your biggest writing mistakes in the comments.

Readers, what mistakes do you find it hardest to overlook? I’d love to know, so comment below!


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7 thoughts on “I Do It Every Time — #MFRWauthor

  1. RobinMichaela says:

    I do similar things with the keyboard. If I’m in the groove, I jut type away and, when I reread, I find out half the words are missing the last letter (or it is attached to the word that comes next, lol). Either way, it looks like a five year old wrote it…. I’m glad I’m not the only one. 🙂

  2. Patricia Preston says:

    I’m hanging onto my old Dell keyboard. That was so funny about all your characters saying “What on Earth.” It is easy to do that sort of thing.

  3. Cathy Brockman says:

    My keys tend to stick causing me issues too. I tend to pick a thing about a character and over do it in a book too. You are not alone!

  4. Meka James says:

    I miss words when typing also, that and doubling up words when I type. So instead of saying they went, I’ll have typed they they. Moving too fast. Yay on being a clean writer. That is a great thing to hear and live up to consistently.

  5. Kenzie Michaels says:

    LOL….I have ‘dyslexic fingers’….instead of typing ‘was’, it will end up as ‘aws’. Like you, when I’m typing, I usually catch mistakes instantly. But let me get on a roll and I won’t catch it until hours later, or even the next day. I’ve joked with my editor that ‘I can spell, but my fingers can’t!’

    My editor (and beta readers) took me to task over my last series; I decided to follow a friend’s family tradition and named all 5 characters starting with the same letter. But this confused everyone, since they were alien names, so I had to change them up. I’ve also discovered I’ve used ‘Marie’ as a middle name in nearly every damn book, plus the name ‘Rosalie’ for a mom’s name twice. Oops!

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