Thursday, January 15, 2015

Common Mistakes

The Grammar Guide by Filtered: Mistakes We All Make

Today's post is going to focus on common mistakes, but most importantly, about how to not beat yourself up over them.

I typically leave posts like these for my Of Note series, but I was shared this graphic by Filtered and thought, "Why don't I talk about my mistakes?"

I still do make mistakes, we all do. Its and it's, effect and affect, your and you're, all somehow worm their way past our due diligence and sit on our work in all their ugly glory. Very few things are as proud as these grammar mistakes, not even cockroaches.

It's why I use Spellchecker and ProWritingAid constantly. Every post I make, I read it twice, then I run it through ProWritingAid to find anything else. This routine doesn't catch everything, but it does catch most.

My latest run in with common grammar mistakes was my second edition of The Dragon's Tear I published last month. I found  missing dialogue tags, three missing periods, I misspelled "trees" of all things. It's safe to say, it wasn't my finest moment. Not as bad as before I first published it and found the main character's name misspelled in chapter 14. Now that was disheartening.

Mistakes happen, and they'll always happens. We can edit for months, and somehow a misspelled word or missing period is on the page or tablet. Learn to be comfortable with the knowledge that you're not perfect, no matter how hard you try.

I may misremember where I heard this story, I think it was a magazine article although it could have been an Internet one, that John Grisham or James Paterson (I can't remember!) misspelled their protagonist's name in the first fourteen pages. The reviewer actually thought it was a brand new character, until they realized what happened. And that's a big name author who's experienced in writing and has editors experienced in finding mistakes.

The big benefit of this digital age is how typos are no longer married to print. They are no longer written in ink, as it were. I uploaded a new version of The Dragon's Tear to Kindle, and in twelve hours the evidence was erased. That's nice.

This change in delivery means if a reviewer or author finds a mistake post-release, it can be addressed. It's important to realize what's a mistake and what isn't, but it's good to have. It reminds me of computers and typewriters. Computers are so much easier to edit and move around. Typewriters, as nice as they are, can't compete.

In that last sentence, I had a terrible moment in judgement and instead of writing "compete" I wrote "computer" again. "Typewriters, as nice as they are, can't computer." is dumb. A few backspaces later, it was like it never even happened.

Check all your bad habits. Invest in not only a program for editing, but an actual editor. Read your chapters backwards if you have to, just make sure you do your very best. If you do that, then don't sweat the small stuff. Unless you misspelled your main character's name. Yeah, that's pretty bad. Don't do that.