Thought I’d post about some of the most common errors I’ve seen while I’ve been editing lately. Keep these in mind when you’re self-editing before you submit your manuscript to an editor, agent or publisher. For those of you who make them, just be aware. I am not making any judgments about these; I just want writers to be aware of them.
Chocked instead of choked
I’ve seen this a lot lately in several different manuscripts by different authors.
Periods before dialogue attributions
Lots of this in many different manuscripts. When you place an attribution, end the dialogue with a comma, a question mark or an exclamation mark, as appropriate.
Hyphens instead of dashes
When you want to use a dash, use one. Don’t substitute a hyphen instead. They are not the same thing. You can make an en dash by pushing the Ctrl button and the minus button at the same time. You can make an em dash by pushing the Ctrl button, the Alt button and the minus button at the same time.
Ellipses only have three dots
Ellipses have three dots, not four, and not a long string of dots. To make an ellipse in Word that acts as a single character so it won’t get split from one line to the next, hold down the Alt button while you put in the numbers 0133.
If you’re in the USA, place your periods and commas inside the quotation marks. Don’t leave them dangling.
Shuttered instead of shuddered
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen this over the past few months. If your character is creeped out and shuddering, say so. If your character’s house is shuttered up to protect the windows, so be it.
Breath and breathe
Boy, do these two get mixed up a lot! If your character needs to breathe, add the e. If they are taking a breath, leave it off.
Could of, Should of, Would of
Don’t do this. It is could have, should have and would have. If you want the words to sound like of, use could’ve, should’ve or would’ve.
Bear and Bare
Yes, they sound alike, but they are two different things! Bear is either a large, wild animal or your character is having to carry a heavy burden. Bare is, well, you know, without clothing. Even worse is a local exercise place that uses bare in their name and a teddy bear in their logo. 😛
Boarder and Border
A border is a line, an edge or barrier. The yard had a border of marigolds. The excited couple gazed over the border into Mexico. A boarder is someone renting a room.
Well, that’s about it for now. I’m sure I’ll have more to add in another post on another day.