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Common mistakes in Writing

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1 Common mistakes in Writing on Wed Jan 19, 2011 4:54 pm


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Post lại theo một bạn có yêu cầu. Bạn nào có rồi xiiiin "don't blame"

Five Common Mistakes Beginning Writers Make
by Lisa Tuttle When
I first considered attempting a professional writing career, I remember
thinking, "I received As on my high school and college writing papers.
How much harder could it be to write for the professional market?" I
soon learned the answer to that question. While a solid foundation in
high school and college writing classes will be of tremendous benefit to
a person approaching the professional writing arena, editors at
magazines, newspapers and publishing houses require their writers to
meet a higher standard. As I embarked on my mission to publish, I
discovered five key areas in which professional writing differed from
school standards. After learning to spot these mistakes in my own
writing, I noticed other beginning writers struggling with the same
issues. By identifying these common weaknesses in your writing and
learning ways to improve, you will craft stronger manuscripts and
improve the chances of publishing your work. 1. Passive verbs: When
I joined my first critique group in March 2002, my crit partners kindly
pointed out that my verbs were passive. Passive? As opposed to
militant? What does that mean? I wondered. Passive verbs, forms of the
verb to be, convey a state of being, while active verbs exhibit action
and energy. When writing, active is better! For example:
It was a sunny day. They had a picnic beneath an oak tree. Each
sentence contains a passive verb (in bold). While these sentences
describe the setting and activity, they tell the reader about the scene
rather than allowing him to experience it with the characters. The
passive verbs are mostly to blame. They don't activate the senses and
conjure vivid pictures that titillate a reader's imagination. Let's
òlace the passive verbs and add some description. Bright rays of sunshine filtered through the oak's green canopy, laying a dappled pattern of light across the picnic blanket. Can
you picture this inviting setting more clearly? Why? Because the verbs
paint a vivid picture in the reader's mind. The three key elements from
the first example—sun, picnic, and oak—have been retained, however, the
active verbs and descriptive phrases make the setting come alive. A form of "the to be verb" paired with by is another common passive. For example: The child was run over by a car. Here,
the car is performing the action and the child is being acted upon. The
sentence is stronger if the object performing the action is placed at
the beginning of the sentence like this: The car ran over the child. The
revised sentence is shorter and more active. A shorter sentence with a
stronger verb creates a greater impact on the reader. Here's two more: The president was impeached by Congress. versus Congress impeached the president. The bank was robbed by an armed gunman. versus An armed gunman robbed the bank. When
editing, I look for forms of to be and determine whether they could be
òlaced with an active verb. You can't rewrite them all, but in many
instances you will find stronger òlacements for your passive verbs. Forms of to be: am is are was were be being been 2. Lazy words: When
a writer puts words to paper, his or her speaking habits inevitably
influence the writing voice. Your personality will come through in your
writing, however, you don't want your lazy speech habits to translate
onto paper. Here are some common lazyisms to edit out of your writing: *
that—This pesky little word makes frequent appearances. When you see
"that" in your writing, read the sentence again, omitting the word. Does
it make sense without "that"? If so, hit delete. I find only one in ten
"thats" are necessary. * just—I heard Robin Lee Hatcher speak at
a national writing conference. When asked about her editing habits, she
stated she overuses the word "just" and must edit it from her
manuscript. I went home and looked at one of my novels, and "just" was
everywhere. Fire up the delete key and eliminate it. *
get/got—These are lazy verbs used often in conversation, but they should
be òlaced with stronger verbs in our writing. He got in the boat
becomes He climbed into the boat and She got a new car becomes She
purchased a new car. You can make exceptions to the get/got rule when
writing dialogue. You want your characters to sound natural, so
including a few "gets" is acceptable between quotation marks. *
over—Here in the Midwest, people overuse the word "over." If I'm not
careful, I end up with a few in every paragraph. When editing, I watch
for this pesky pòosition and rewrite a large portion of them. *
very, really, a lot—It was very hot. How hot is "very"? What seems hot
to someone in Alaska may be normal for someone living on the equator. Be
more specific, using concrete descriptions rather than opting for one
of these lazy words. * thing—This vague word drains impact from
your sentences. Rewrite, òlacing "thing" with a more specific noun.
Sometimes the word "it" is similarly vague. 3. Unnecessary words:
like tight, concise sentences. When word count or column space is
limited, a writer must eliminate extra words, delivering maximum meaning
in minimum space. Here's a few tips to help you transform rambling
sentences and wordy phrases into powerful paragraphs. I thought maybe we might go to the nursing home. Maybe
and might both serve the same purpose in this sentence, so one could
easily be removed without detracting from the meaning of the sentence. Do you think you might be able to go to the store for me? Obviously,
I've exaggerated this example, but even the best writer pens a sentence
like this one from time to time. Here's a clue: Watch for sentences
containing three or more short words in succession. Short word clusters
usually indicate a wordy sentence, which can be reduced. Will you go to the store for me? Sometimes, you can òlace three or four words with one more concise term: She took money out of her account. becomes She withdrew money from her account. His aunt will be coming back home on Friday. becomes His aunt returns home on Friday. When
writing or editing, you want to make every word count. By eliminating
weak or unnecessary words and phrases, you will strengthen your story or
article and make those sentences shine. 4. repeated words or phrases: She leaned back against the back of the chair, taking some pressure off her back. In
this sentence the word "back" appears three times, each in a different
context. òetition is distracting to the reader and should be avoided.
When editing, look for òeated words and phrases. Rewrite to eliminate
Here's another common òetition error: In the first inning, the batter hit one out of the park in the first inning. Notice
the bolded phrase is used twice. This mistake usually occurs when the
sentence is lengthy, putting the beginning phrase far enough away from
the end to easily overlook the òetition. 5. Adverbs: Stephen King said, "The road to hell is paved with adverbs."
While my aversion to adverbs does not match Mr. King's in intensity, I
agree beginning writers overuse them, particularly those of the -ly
persuasion. Adverbs ending in -ly often indicate the writer has used a
weak verb. By substituting a stronger verb, the writer can eliminate the
need for an -ly adverb. For example: He walked quickly. òlace with: He hurried. He rushed. or He scrambled. He eyed her lustily. òlace with:
He leered. or He ogled. The
rewritten sentences are more concise and, in my opinion, convey a more
vivid image. Watch for -ly words and attempt to rewrite the sentence,
using a stronger verb. After you edit these five mistakes from
your manuscripts, what remains is a well-written, easy-to-read piece
that will appeal to both editors and readers. So, arm yourself with this
list and tackle the editing process with enthusiasm. I guarantee you
will appreciate the results.

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