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June 23, 2011

Getting Published: Misused Words

Filed under: General Writing — Tags: , , — ax20 @ 2:20 pm

When submitting work to an agency, you don’t want to give them any reason to think you might not know what your doing. You don’t want typos, grammatical errors, or other problems that will make them think you aren’t careful with your work. One of the things you should be paying attention to is the words you choose to use. Misused words can lead to confusion and hesitation and can even take the reader out of your story.

Imagine you’re in the middle of an exciting scene:

Tom raced down the street. He had to catch them. If they got away it would be all over. He ducked around a group of kids, leapt over a pile of crate, and kept going. He was closing in, closer. He reached out his hands and grabbed the horses’ reigns.

Wait a minute, horses have reins, not reigns. In that moment, when a reader has to stop and think, he clearly meant a different word, the reader has been pulled from the story. And if the reader is going to get confused, likely so is an agent or a publisher. Sure, one typo will probably not kill your story, but a lot of them over the course of your manuscript might. And if they’re already on the fence, you don’t want to give them a stupid reason to back away. Here are two great blog posts talking about some words that people often confuse/misuse:
Commonly Confused Words
Fifteen Common Errors and How to Fix Them

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