Writing Mistakes that Harm Your Chances of Getting Published

Let’s all get real here. Not everyone can write great prose like Charles Dickens or George Orwell. We’ll probably never get into any of those guy’s leagues but that doesn’t mean that you should give up on writing just yet. If anything, you should keep on writing. There are writing mistakes however that you need to watch out for if you’re thinking about writing your own book.

Nothing ruins a writer faster than terrible grammar. We’re not only referring to the simple your and you’re or were and we’re dilemma here. We’re talking about full-on bad writing that turns off your readers and ruin your chances of getting published. So before submitting your manuscript to your publisher, make sure to watch out for these mistakes.

1. Using passive sentences

Mary was met by a terrible accident the other day. The pickles were stored in a jar by the farmer. Don’t you just feel like falling asleep after reading those sentences? Passive sentences exist for a reason but they have no place for writing captivating content.

2. Using “To be” words

Like passive sentences, “to be” words don’t do much to your sentence other than slow them down and make you sound static. Your thoughts were not meant to just sit there on the page; they’re meant to act and the best way to do that is by using active and engaging verbs.

3. Writing lengthy sentences

How do you know if your sentence is too long? If you’re struggling to express several ideas in one sentence, that’s when you know it’s too long. Your sentences should make sense, not confuse the reader. As a rule, your sentences should be about 20 to 30 words long but if you’re writing about a serious topic 50 to 75 words should be just fine.

4. Carelessly using adverbs

Many writers make the mistake of using empty adverbs in an attempt to add emphasis. Words like “really,” “very,” “literally” or any word that ends with a ly sound banal and they add little meaning to your sentences. To quote Mark Twain, “Use the right word, not its second cousin.” so instead of using words like “very hot,” you can say “sweltering” or you can use “gulp” instead of “drink quickly”.

5. Wrong dialogue punctuation

If you’re writing fiction that’s heavy on dialogue, you’ll need to watch your dialogue punctuation. Make sure to create a new paragraph for every new line from the speaker and keep the end punctuation inside the end quotation mark.

6. Ignoring commas

Other than using commas for writing lists of three or more items or when following introductory words or phrases, you can also use commas to set the tone and pace of your writing. If your goal is to sound fast-paced, you don’t have to put commas but if you want to slow down your reader and give them time to absorb the idea, a comma will definitely help.

Now that you know which writing mistakes to avoid, apply them into your work and as always, never stop learning and always practice.