When you write a phrase describing something, make sure your subject is the thing being described.
Exhausted and tired, homework seemed too daunting.
Written this way, "homework" becomes exhausted and tired.
You can rewrite it to read:
Exhausted and tired, I couldn't fathom the thought of facing homework.
Parallel structures: Although not technically incorrect, sentences with many adjectives/verbs can be confusing when they're not parallel.
She loves to swim, to bike, and jogging.
A more concise way to say this:
She loves to swim, bike, and jog.
Here's another example of parallel structure with adjectives:
The box was golden, small, and held many things.
Instead, it's more effective when rewritten like this:
The box was golden, small, and packed.
This also reveals where details can be improved or changed.
Writers often punctuate tags and beats wrong. Commas and periods should go inside quotation marks, and beats can be their own sentences.
"We need to go," he said.
She scratched her head. "Are you sure?"
"Well," I say, "I guess there's no other way."
Misusing hyphens: If two words work together to modify something (compound modifier), they're usually hyphenated (e.g., novel-writing workshop, sun-scorched earth, water-like texture).
Hyphens are NOT used after adverbs (e.g., quaintly decorated, smartly dressed).
The em dash: We all love them, but please remember that em dashes are longer than hyphens and aren't interchangeable!
I looked away—his face was too distracting.
Notice the dash is longer than the hyphen (-). You may need to look up how to type this out.
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From an Editor: Common Writing MistakesNon-Fiction
As a content and copy editor, I see mistakes that many writers make. I've compiled these into some quick tips and examples for anyone who may find this helpful. (Adapted from a Twitter thread I wrote.)