“Have you ever bought a New York Times bestseller and found a typo or a glaring error? It’s happened to most of us. Errors can detract from the overall impression of quality readers expect of a published book. This can lead to negative reviews and low ratings, which can have an undesirable impact on sales.
The occasional error is practically inevitable in a finished manuscript, but striving for perfection is still a worthy aim. Understanding the most common mistakes can help authors approach their work and editing process with more clarity — and keep them from stumbling on common pitfalls.
At Reedsy, we work with experienced developmental editors, copy editors, and proofreaders. I asked them a simple question: “What’s the most common writing mistake you see even bestselling authors making?” You’ll find their answers below, from big-picture mistakes down to the nitty-gritty of grammar and punctuation.
- Show, don’t tell
- Weak opening narrative
- Over-describing the action
- Unbelievable conflicts
- Assumption of knowledge
- Misuse of punctuation
- Misplaced and “dangling” modifiers
- Disruptive or incorrect dialogue tags
- Inconsistencies in names and spelling
- Misuse of tense
- Homonym errors and commonly confused words.”
Read more via 12 Common Writing Errors Even Bestselling Authors Make