You may have a great piece of writing you’ve just created, but it will go underappreciated due to several little writing rules you have, without thinking, broken. Certain writing styles, word usage and punctuation marks tend to annoy readers more than others. Unfortunately, these writing blemishes are impossible to predict with each person disturbed by them. Everyone has their own preferences.
It is always good to keep in mind the writing styles and formats that might potentially cause an unwelcome stir in your readers’ heads. That way you can try and minimize the usage of them in an effort to appeal to the majority. But ask a few of your friends what annoys them about certain pieces of written work? Think about what bothers you.
Here, are some of the writing strategies that especially get on my nerves from a fellow writer’s as well as a reader’s perspective. Keep in mind the disclaimer that I’m fully aware some of these are not in fact writing faux pas, or writing rules broken, and are actually just writing “problems” that I alone do not enjoy.
(However, I still maintain there are at least a handful of people out there who agree with me on some of these…)
Here’s the list:
1) Writing problems: Clichés.
I used to have a stern Journalism Professor in college who successfully trained me to utterly despise and get almost nauseous at the sight or sound of any phrase that even remotely resembled a cliché. “He was the apple of my eye so I decided to just once and for all bite the bullet, swallow my pride and ask him to go steady.” Can you pick out all five of them in that sentence? If you’ve ever been trained in cliché theory, as I like to call it, you probably know that the lists of qualifying phrases are enormous. Just for kicks, or as an effort to tighten up your writing craft with more unique and substantial commentary, I highly recommend you do a search for an online list of cliché phrases. Not only do these lists help writers start to recognize some sayings they use frequently that are maybe a little too trite to pull off but they will also probably give you a good chuckle. Some of my favorite cliché phrases I encountered on such a list one time were the following statements, none of which I had really heard much of before:
“Kill em all, let God sort em out”
“It’s all that and a bag of chips”
“He’s dead to me”
2) Writing problems: Exclamation points.
There is a time and a place for exclamation point usage and these occasions are few and far between (did you catch that cliché?!!!) It is often said that exclamations are as cheesy and embarrassing as laughing at your own jokes! Not only that but the overuse of this punctuation mark is not exactly pleasing to the eyes!
Furthermore, reading a sentence that ends with an exclamation naturally causes the reader to alter in some way his or her inner narrator’s voice, usually by changing it to indicate emphasis and exaggeration! The overuse of this mark tends to, instead of adding emotion to a sentence, actually distract the reader from the real substance and depth in the words because their subconscious and inner reader’s voice is too busy being annoyed by the diversion from its regular rhythm of internal speaking to accommodate the way too enthusiastic and unnecessary exclamatory remarks!!!
3) Writing Problems: Online chat room lingo such as LOL (Laugh out Loud), TTYL (Talk To You Later), or BRB (Be right Back) in professional articles.
There are plenty more, believe me. One should never be caught dead utilizing one of these cheesy conversational adaptations made so famous by AOL instant messenger at any point in their writing career for use in a professional article unless they are mocking it. It alienates many readers who are unfamiliar with some of the obscure abbreviations. It is plain and simple a mockery of the English language, that is okay for the online chat revolution but there it must stay. Take a look if you are interested in this online abbreviational phenomenon at AOL home page for a chat or IM expression list. There are more than you might have ever imagined and they only get sillier and more unnecessary as the list progressed. Check it out!!!
4) Writing Problems: Too frequent use of the passive voice.
Make an effort to write utilizing more active verbs in your work and avoid the passive voice as much as possible. Admittedly this rule is one of the by far most difficult to master, but to achieve at least a minor improvement within your sentences seems to present a very positive difference. An example of the passive voice would be: “I was holding her hand on the beach.” To change that statement to be more active, one would instead write: “I held her hand on the beach.”
5) Writing Problem: Little or no variation in sentence structure.
One writing mistake that can really kill a story and quickly bore a reader to the point of actually putting your work aside before finishing it is a lack of sentence structure variation. It’s easiest to test your pieces for this problem by reading the work aloud. Are many of the sentences in the same format? When your read one after another does it sound repetitive, almost like you are involuntarily speaking in monotone to the point of losing the entire essence of the particular structure of words you so carefully strung together? This takes a while to master as well but just like the active voice writing tip, learning vary your sentence format would make a huge difference in the quality and ease of comprehension of your work.