Write without fear
This month both amateur and professional authors all around the world have been taking part in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Participants support, inspire and motivate one another throughout this challenge in which they commit to writing 50,000 words in just 30 days. That’s over 1,600 words a day.
When you're racing to meet a word count, it's easy to inadvertently introduce errors – sometimes catastrophic errors that will make it impossible for readers to enjoy your finished novel. However, you shouldn’t worry about this possible eventuality while you’re writing (you don’t want anything to disrupt your creative flow when you have a deadline to meet); there’s plenty of time to edit later.
Edit without mercy
When it comes to self-editing, it would help if you knew what you needed to look out for. Here are five of the most common mistakes which are most likely to ruin your novel.
1) Run-on sentences and comma splices can result in an amateurish, breathless style and are grammatically incorrect*: complete sentences should not run on into each other without punctuation, nor should they be separated by a comma unless the comma is followed by a connecting word. Choose the most appropriate solution for your sentences from the following options:
2) Badly punctuated dialogue can make your characters' conversations impossible to follow. The rules for punctuating dialogue are too lengthy to explain here, so this blog post is very helpful if you're unsure of them.
3) Continuity errors can leave your readers dazed and confused – for example, characters' names or appearances changing; or a character who is supposed to have died but who suddenly reappears; or a change in narration from first to third person.
4) Tense changes: If carefully done, mixed tenses can be effective; however, when done badly or in error then the only result will be to confuse your reader.
5) Factual errors: Check for technological and historical inaccuracies, such as characters using smartphones and Facebook in a novel set in 2001, or referring to the death of Princess Diana in a story set in 1995.
If you are planning to publish your novel, then checking your manuscript and eliminating these errors yourself will result in a more readable novel and save you money when your manuscript goes through the editorial process. That’s when it's time for you to put your feet up, give your eyes a well-earned rest and let an editor and proofreader take care of the finer points for you; then you will have a professionally polished novel of which you can be rightly proud.