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Top writing mistakes that everyone makes

Nobody is a perfect writer. Even novelists with years of experience have a team of editors who are ready to pick up on any issues with their writing. For those of us who do not have that luxury, there’s a few mistakes that all of us make and are easy enough to spot and correct! We’ve compiled a list of those mistakes, and what you can do to fix them.


1.     Vague pronouns. This is one of the mistakes we see most often at Red Pen, and is so easily fixed. Every time you want to start a sentence with “this” ask yourself “this what?”. This technique will help you, and the reader, who doesn’t want to be re-reading bits of text to try and figure out what “this” is.

2.     Sentence fragmentation. A sentence, as a must, must have both a subject and a verb. If you’re getting the dreaded green (or blue in newer versions) lines under your text in Word, make sure that every one of your sentences has these two elements.

3.     Constant changes in tense. If you start your work in the past tense, stay with the past tense. If you start with the present, stick with the present. It can be extremely confusing for your readers if you’re constantly switching between tenses, and they’re trying to keep up when and where something happened.

4.     Inconsistent spelling. Many of us (Native speakers included!) find keeping up with UK/US English differences daunting, but at Red Pen, we are always loyal to consistency. If you use “organization” in the first paragraph, don’t switch to “organisation” in the next one! While both of these spellings are correct, using them in the same work suggests a lack of spelling knowledge.