I was reading for pleasure for years before I ever started trying to write my own. I devoured series romances as fast as I could get my hands on them. Back then, I had no idea how much work went into producing one of those books. I had this mythical idea that the book somehow magically emerge whole cloth from the writer’s talented imagination. I’ve since learned just how wrong I was. There are regular people behind all those stories, and however skilled or talented they may be, we all make mistakes. In fact, most of us have common mistakes that we make nearly every time. Here are a few of mine.
I have a physical disability that limits my ability to type (and to do a lot of other physical things). As such, I use dictation software almost exclusively when I write. Over the years, I’ve developed a set up that works pretty well for me. For the most part, it’s amazingly accurate. However, it’s inevitable that some words get misunderstood and mistakes get made. Case in point, in the previous sentence, Dragon misinterpreted mistakes get made to say mistakes it made. This is probably the biggest category of my mistakes. Most of them are small and easily caught, but a few always slip through. Luckily, my primary beta reader is used to it and has gotten very good at interpreting what Dragon Speak is supposed to mean. On occasion, it has even inadvertently led to some pretty amusing errors.
Repetition and Wordiness
As far as mistakes I make as opposed to ones made by my software, the biggest ones are probably repetition and wordiness. I like long sentences. When I tell stories, I get very detailed and can rattle a bit. A book I have coming out in March was actually 3000 words shorter after it came out of the editing phase. I’m just a wordy writer. That’s why it’s important for me to have good editors and beta readers who can help me tighten it up.
By the same token, I struggle with repetition. It’s not unusual for me to repeat the same word two or three times in a given paragraph or page. I particularly seem to struggle with the words just and that. They seem to multiply like bunnies in my manuscripts. Sometimes I repeat explanations too. That’s partly because I often don’t write in order and as I’m going along through the draft I don’t realize that I’ve already splaying this somewhere before and don’t need to do it again. That doesn’t always become obvious until all the different pieces of the story have been put together.
I could doubtless go on for a while. There are plenty of other mistakes I make on a regular basis. I’m not, nor have I ever claimed to be perfect, but I always hope to create a reader experience that far overrides the occasional mistake that might slip through.