Let me begin by saying, I don’t have a Masters in English Literature or Creative Writing. I have never labeled myself an “expert” when it comes to writing, however, I know the difference between good grammar, and poor grammar. I’m also capable of identifying the misuse of punctuation. I’ve been reading the work of other writers lately–mostly self-published authors like myself—and I’ve come across a few things I feel I need to point out. I’m not going to name any names or books, but if you catch yourself doing any of the things I mention here, you may want to go back and do a bit of editing.
Dialogue should be enclosed with quotation marks, like this: “It’s not a problem,” she said. You shouldn’t use an apostrophe, ex: ‘It’s not a problem’ she said. Also, you shouldn’t use parentheses , ex: (It’s not a problem) she said. And please, don’t use double parentheses, either! Ex: ((It’s not a problem)) she said.
I’m mentioning these, because I actually came across all of these problems in books I have recently read.
There, Their, They’re…
Using the wrong word, or using a word in the wrong tense can be a problem. As a writer, I always keep certain tools handy: a dictionary, a thesaurus, and Google. I have come to appreciate all three, especially the speech function for Google. If I’m not entirely sure how to spell a word, or which tense to use it in, I can always read the sentence out loud, and let Google help me. Plus, I’m still a fan of the old fashioned method of flipping through the pages of a dictionary or thesaurus.
I’m not trying to pick on anyone, but as a writer, the misuse of punctuation and grammar, are two things I take very seriously. I’m a self-published author, so I have to be very mindful of the writing I publish. I don’t have an editor to help me catch my mistakes; I have to do it all on my own. Whenever I read a piece of writing that was self-published, and contains several errors such as the ones mentioned above, it adds to the belief that “self published books are not real books”. There are many people who are against self-publishing, because pretty much ANYONE can publish a book now. The quality of these books can be incredible, but there are books which are seriously lacking the attention to editing every book needs. If you see any of the things I mentioned in your writing, please go back and fix it. If you have allowed someone else to help you edit your work and it still contains these kinds of mistakes, it may be time to look for another editor.