Funny Misplaced Modifiers and Other Common Writing Mistakes

misplaced modifierIndies Unlimited has all kinds of editing resources for writers. We even have real-life editors who take a spot at the gruel pot.

Because I am not an editor, while I’m reading a novel that interests me, the occasional typo or misplaced modifier is likely to fly right past me. In spite of that, I’m a writing tutor for Pearson/Smarthinking. It’s okay. I can pay attention when I have to.

I tutor over 100 students per month on higher-level orders such as thesis statements, content development, and organization. I also coach them on lower-level issues such as noun-verb agreement, sentence structure, and misplaced modifiers.

Over time, I’ve come to see the same lower-level mistakes again and again. Some are so sneaky that we can read a passage, know something isn’t quite right, but have no idea what it is.

Here are some of the sneakiest errors I see: Continue reading “Funny Misplaced Modifiers and Other Common Writing Mistakes”

Make Your Writing Invisible

DARK-AND-STORMYWhat if you produced an eBook, and one word on almost every page, chosen at random, pulsated gently. What if you produced a paperback, and one random word in every thousand was a different colour.

I can just hear you now. “What a stupid thing to do!” “Why would anybody in their right mind do that?” and, “Why are you throwing distractions at the readers?”

And my answer is, “You’re doing it all the time.”

Huh? Continue reading “Make Your Writing Invisible”

Why Scientists Shouldn’t Write Science Fiction

scientists writing science fiction LAB BOOKAnd why detectives need to be careful writing Detective Fiction, etcetera. Experts tend to fill their novels with esoteric information that gets in the way of the story, so choose your atmospheric/tech descriptions wisely.

Okay, Isaac Asimov had a PhD in Biochemistry. He was a genius. But I think it is safe to assume that you’re not. And if you are, you shouldn’t be listening to me anyway. Go away and create a brave new genre, and leave us plods in the dust trying to explain why you are so successful.

Asimov’s genius was in using his scientific background to make his Sci-Fi believable, but not letting it become the be-all and end-all of his work.

That is the bane of science fiction writers. So many of them think that they can create all sorts of verisimilitude by having wonderfully accurate science in their stories. And they are wrong. Because what the vast majority of people want is good stories. They couldn’t care less about the science. Readers want realistic characters, not realistic science.

Let me give you an example. Continue reading “Why Scientists Shouldn’t Write Science Fiction”

Writing Tip: Trim Your Language

TRIM LANGUAGEThis should be called “Mistakes I Made That You Shouldn’t” series. Once more, you lucky people are going to will get the benefit of my lengthy writing experience. As in, lengthy writing is the problem. In other words, I’m editing a novel I wrote several years ago and cutting out all the junk I have since learned not to put in. If some of you are now where I was then, these examples could be of use in tuning help tighten up your own language. Let’s see how many words we can save if we are firm with ourselves. Continue reading “Writing Tip: Trim Your Language”