Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Grade School Writing Mistakes

This is part two of a five-part series on writing mistakes.
We've already talked about protecting your credibility by systematically eliminating baby mistakes from your writing. This post discusses what I like to call grade school errors, the types of errors that make your writing sound like a gradeschooler's.

1) Does your writing contain misspellings of words like you're/your, to/too/two or there/their/they're? Does it contain the painfully ungrammatical phrases should of, would of, or could of?

2) Do all your verbs match with all of your subjects?

3) Are your verb tenses consistent throughout your writing?

A single instance of one of these errors, even in the midst of an exceptional article, can seriously damage your credibility in the eyes of your readers. That's why it is critical to go over every sentence of your writing and carefully strip out all examples of grade school errors. These types of errors are far more serious than simple spelling errors (which merely indicate laziness), because they cause your readers to question your intelligence and your competence.

The final type of grade school writing error is the crime of self-absorption. As you edit your work, ask yourself these three questions and you'll alleviate this all-too-common writing error:

1) Is your writing inappropriately dominated by the words I and me?

2) Is your writing about your subject, or is it really about you in relation to your subject?

3) Finally, can you step back and judge, objectively, whether your audience will care about what you write?

Remember, your writing is for your audience, not just for you.