It didn’t take long for me to recognize certain unwelcome patterns in my writing when I began to edit my books in earnest. Some of my mistakes were because when I write, I type so fast when I’m trying to keep up with my mind that my fingers seem to take their own short cuts. Other errors were that I’d unwittingly been spelling a word wrong all my life. Take wheelbarrow. Okay, I’ll admit something embarrassing. I always thought it was spelled wheel barrel. In my mind it made sense. It was like a barrel, with wheels on it. Duh … I will say in my defense that I don’t think I ever saw it written out growing up, but my father certainly used his wheelbarrow a lot, and where I come from, it’s pronounced barrel, not barrow.
Another foible of mine, is that I type so fast that I sometimes type all the write letters in a word, but not in the right order. Becuase is a word I do this to a lot. I’ll type the word out becuase, switching the a and u around. I also type that as taht. Or if I want to type “it was as if it never happened,” I’ll type “it wa sas ifi t never happened.” Right letters, right order, just wrong spacing. Honestly, it’s very annoying.
I think my favorite of my weird typos is how I commonly type and extra apostrophe in a contracted word. Can’t will be can’t’ and didn’t will be didn’t’. I still do this to this day and it’s super irritating.
But on the upside, I’ve recognized where I go wrong and this is one of the reasons, when my mother was reading my final draft of my latest book, she commented on how few typos I had.
I was thinking a lot about this yesterday when I was reading someone else’s manuscript. He has his own little errors he’s commonly making. His aren’t like mine though, which are mistakes of speed, his are mistakes of ignorance. He just hasn’t studied how to write fiction. His consistent errors are that he is commonly putting the period after quotation marks. “I’m going to the store, honey”. for example. The period should be inside the end quotation mark, not after. Sometimes he does it right, sometimes he does it wrong.
His other error is that he isn’t putting a comma at the end of a quote in a sentence. Example: “I’m going to the store” Frank said as he walked out the door. There should be a comma after store.
At least for him, once he’s mastered these little things, he shouldn’t make his mistakes anymore. With me, it’s a little different. I have the slightest touch of dyslexia. Forget numbers, I’m hopeless at numbers, but I have to fight to keep my common typos out of my writing. But the first step is recognizing what you do on a consistent basis, once you do, you can really improve the quality of that first draft and make your editing process that much easier.