Writing Tips : 5 Common Writing Mistakes


Hey, how’s everybody doing today?

Though I haven’t finished the final edits to Spettra, I decided I would take some time to write up my Writing Wednesday Blog (publishing on Friday, so I guess that eliminates the Wednesday part). The edits are near completion, and I believe the new edition of Spettra will be released early next week. It’s looking sharper, with illustrations drawn up by yours truly, new scenes, as well as an all around tighter story and style. More information about what’s new with Spettra, and the free promotion, will be announced soon after the release.

Now, let’s discuss writing. More specifically, lets discuss some mistakes found with new writers, old writers, and people who just write once in a while.I’ve attempted to think of the most interesting. I did this, in hopes I wouldn’t end up  duplicating the hundreds of memes, posts, etc., dedicated to writing mistakes.

Let’s have a look:

Overuse of the word: that. 

I’ve found while editing, that using the word that, may be grammatically correct in most cases, but is unnecessary in half. Eliminating ‘that’ from areas that don’t require it, will tighten up your sentences, and make it easier for the reader overall. The same goes for use of the word had. Had sounds good it past-tense, but if overused, it’s just plain tiring.


The man that found him, had told him that the emerald was in the cave. He had to find it; the man had said that if he didn’t, that he would be punished.


The man who found him, told him the emerald was in the cave. If he didn’t find it, the man said he would be punished.

OK, maybe I was excessive in that blatant example, but I think you catch what I’m throwing. Don’t overuse the words that, or had. It is wordy, most of the time it’s unnecessary, and it leads the reader trudging through words that shouldn’t be there. That, you had best remember. (Also unnecessary)

    Past VS Passed:

I am guilty of making this mistake hundreds of times, and I will likely make it again in the future, though not intentionally. Past and Passed, are two of those words that love to screw with a writer’s psyche, causing them to question it each time its included in their prose.

But, there is light!

There is a distinction between the use of these words, and once you know, you’ll give yourself a face-palm for ever questioning it. I can’t promise you won’t make the mistake again, though. That is entirely up to you, and these two buggers are tough to wean correctly.

Past: So we know, this is the one to be used more liberally than it’s counterpart. Past is mainly used to depict time lapse, or to describe an earlier event, idea, etc.

Example (used incorrectly) :

The passed three days were wrought with sentence errors, along with endless stare-downs against a computer screen.

Correctly used:

The past three days were wrought with sentence errors, along with endless stare downs against a computer screen.

You might think (as I did once) that using the word ‘passed’ in this sense, is OK. I mean, the day did pass by, right? It went by, metaphorically, so why can’t you say passed?

Sure. I won’t argue, because when you look at it, it is right; at least technically. But your reader will be confused. When you use ‘passed’ to describe the act of physically passing something, then use it again to describe time, you’re confusing the same word, with two different meanings. That is why we have the two different versions. If there wasn’t a reason for it, it wouldn’t be there.

In closing, use past for time (or anything time-related), and passed if you (or your character) is physically moving around something. It’s really as simple as that.

Than; then:

As common, and as talked about as this mistake is, I felt the need to address it. All writers, no matter how experienced, make this mistake, and continue to make this mistake, whether they know it or not. They are much like those other pesky words, past and passed, only these tend to slip through the cracks of a writer’s prose with much less notice. I’ve made the mistake, and will make it again in the future.

Here’s what they mean, and what you can do about it:

Than: Used to compare two or more things.

Then: Used to move along a point of time,or a sentence to the next point.

What can you do?

Use the search on your word processing program (whatever it may be), to find these. If you search  throughout your whole document, you can find all the places you used them, and decide whether or not they were used properly. You can also use this method to rid excessive use of the words : had and that.

Overuse of comma in dialogue:

The comma is a great way to separate ideas in a sentence. It is, however, also a great way to make your speaker sound like a robot. Use it sparingly in your dialogue; when it seems natural for your speaker to take a pause in their speech. To be certain, try sounding it out.

Example (Incorrectly used)

“You see, Chuck, I just cant seem to, focus, on anything.”


You see, Chuck, I just can’t seem to focus on anything.”

Use your commas when necessary, and always sound out your dialogue to make sure it sounds real. Unless your creating a world of robots, dialogue should be smooth.

Nauseous VS Nauseated

Nauseous, and nauseated. Sound similar, spelled similar, and are often used as the same word.


  Nauseous, means that something is sickening to think about. To be clear, it something sickening to think about. Not to feel; not to see, but simply to contemplate.

Example (used incorrectly)

I was nauseous after taking a ride on the Loop-de-twirl.

(correctly used)

The Loop-de-twirl is a nauseous ride.

Nauseated, on the other hand, means to feel sick.

Example (Incorrectly used)

The Loop-de-twirl was a nauseated ride.

Example (used correctly)

I felt nauseated after riding on the Loop-de-twirl. Spins and dips, aren’t my thing.

Use nauseous when describing something that is sickening to think about, but never to directly describe your subject (unless the thought of your subject is sickening). Use nauseated when your subject feels sick.


Well, that’s all I got for today.

I hope you all enjoyed the blog, and I hope it helps with your writing.

There will be more to come.

-Adam Gainer


Keep an eye out for Spettra’s free promotion, and re-release, coming next week!

Connect with me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Adam_Gainer

Or Facebook: www,facebook.com/AuthorAdamGainer

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