IWSG: Pet Peeves

It’s time again for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Posts go up the first Wednesday of each month. Read more posts and/or join in here.

Question of the Month: What are your pet peeves when reading/writing/editing?

Well, I used to work in publishing as an editor (and sometimes still do freelance work), so I have a healthy list of peeves. I think the thing to keep in mind is: there’s a difference between things that are correct and incorrect versus preferences. Certainly, anything incorrect is annoying, and when an author seems unschooled in basic grammar, that’s a problem for the reader. “Bad writing” can therefore be listed as a peeve. But many writers can at least put a sentence together. Some just have “tics”—little writing quirks. You see it in even the most established authors.

I know one writer who is what I call “comma happy.” I mean, I use commas pretty freely myself, and this guy outstrips me by a lot. Most of the commas are unnecessary, though not “wrong” per se, though I find reading his work halting because of all the pauses the commas create.

Tense problems are something that bother me, and they’re a common problem. Even I make those mistakes. Every peeve I have is one I’ve committed, probably more than once, at that’s what bothers me most.

As for peeves when I’m reading or writing or editing: noise and interruptions, of course!

11 thoughts on “IWSG: Pet Peeves”

  1. Good point about correct / incorrect vs. preferences. Maybe some things that annoy me when I’m reading are down to author preferences. I always struggle with the use of commas. I tend to just put them in where I think they go naturally, but I’m sure that I often get it wrong.

    1. Yes, and if you ever have an agent, editor and/or publisher, you’ll have more people moving your commas around! Though publishers usually have a style guide they use to determine these things.

    1. Hmm. If the sentence can be read and understood differently without the commas, then the commas are necessary. (And I’ll admit I do love my Oxford comma.)

  2. Hiya! There’s different ‘rules’ on commas as you know. I finally looked up ‘Oxford comma’ recently and see where a lot of these extra commas come from. Then there’s a writer I critique for–random commas and commas not used when I think they should be. But perhaps I should stop and just let her editor point it out. If these rules haven’t been learned, looks like no amount of pointing them out works.

    My pet peeve is the rules that only apply to emerging writers but are ignored by the big guys, which makes me happily ignore that ‘as’ rule.

    Hope all goes well and you’re getting lots of reading and writing and living done!

    1. I’m prone to excessive comma usage, too. So I guess it’s just amazing to me when I find someone who uses EVEN MORE commas than I do!

    1. I do love the Oxford comma, though I use it judiciously rather than consistently. If I think there’s a chance of misunderstanding—that the sentence could be understood differently otherwise—I use the comma.

  3. Writers who use too many commas must be trying to make their characters sound like William Shatner. =)
    My biggest pet peeve when editing is writers who do not proofread their work before submitting it to their writing group for critiquing. Writers are coached not to filter their ideas as they first put them to paper or a file. But they seem to forget that before they let anyone read their work, they are supposed to proofread and self-edit, preferably many times, until they have cleaned up everything they can. Then they can let other pairs of eyes spot things they didn’t.

    1. Hmm, now every time I read this person’s work, I’m going to be hearing William Shatner’s voice.

      I have no problem with “raw” (unedited) material. Sometimes people need notes on the story, not to be edited for grammar and punctuation. So long as the person is clear about the feedback they’re looking for, that’s fine. But if they bring in something unpolished and expect me to do all their work for them, well, people PAY me for that, so I’m not doing it for free.

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