Anyone who takes writing seriously knows that there are certain conventions that should be followed. From simple things like “they’re” vs. “there” vs. “their” to bigger things like handling protagonist character development, there are numerous mistakes that are talked about frequently. However, there are still even more mistakes that do not get talked about often, if only because they used to be infrequent. Yes, I did say used to be.
Due to my myriad of project types, I end up reading a lot in one day and get exposed to a lot of mistakes I’m surprised people even make. That being said, there are a few in particular that not only grind my gears, but also are a concerning trend in certain areas of the internet. As such, I would like to take a moment to address these unspoken mistakes. You too may have seen these and felt the irritation I do.
Keep in mind these mistakes are pretty variable and don’t particularly have a consistent theme like previous articles; nevertheless, they are worth discussing.
- Titles that are in all lower case
Even for non-native speakers, it should seem a pretty noticeable after a while that titles for works should be capitalized. While there are a few exceptions that were done on purpose by the creator for specific reasons, in most cases titles in all lowercase shouldn’t be done.
Yet, it is something I see happen very frequently for indie stories. Whether it’s laziness or some desire to be edgy, I’m unsure. What I do know, though, is that in most cases it makes the work appear extremely unprofessional. This is especially the case when the creator is inconsistent about whether they capitalize the title or not.
So, unless you have a very, very specific reason not to, I highly recommend capitalizing your titles. It is something simple that if not done, quickly turns off a slew of readers who just assume you’re otherwise going to be a bad writer (which is often not the case for the indie stories I see do this).
- Summaries that are an inappropriate length
For those who write stories, situations where you need to summarize the story can often be difficult. Even I struggle for reviews sometimes actually summarizing what I’m seeing on comic pages, and the longer the story the more difficult it can be. That being said, most of the time people persist and persevere through the problem and eventually come up with a summary that they believe is golden.
This is the point, though, where the next mistake comes in: not stopping to consider if your summary is the right length.
Not all summary lengths are appropriate for every situation. For example, your two paragraph masterpiece of all things is definitely not going to fit onto Twitter. On the otherhand, your Twitter elevator pitch probably isn’t appropriate length if you need to describe in detail what volume 1 of your masterpiece entailed.
Thus, my next tip is simply to consider what you’re writing your summary for and make sure to fit it to those specifications. The point of a summary is to describe the work with as much information as you can in as few words as possible. People will go in with different reading expectations depending on what the summary is for. By that, I mean the person on Twitter is on Twitter to read sentiments that are 140 characters or less. If you give them two paragraphs worth of summary, they will more likely skip it than read it. In the end, it’s in your best interest to not just worry about the summary, but also how long and/or brief the summary needs to be.
- Not specifying the time zone
Time zones are a headache. They have purpose and are around for a reason, but for the average person they can be a hassle. Unfortunately, a lot of writers seem to forget that they’re a thing.
Let me give you a personal story. Recently, in order to become more proficient at marketing, I’ve been researching the best times to post on social media. While I have plenty of complaints about receiving mixed information, the thing that bugged me the most is that none of these articles I read listed the time zone. Let that sink in for a moment. Articles whose purpose it was to list the best times couldn’t be bothered to write the time zone abbreviation.
Hopefully, you can see my dilemma. Sadly, it was a lot of articles who committed this folly, leaving me feeling confused and no more knowledgeable than when I started researching.
Although it’s easy to forget, it is generally wise to include the time zone. Your 1pm is not necessarily someone else’s 1pm. As the internet reaches the far corners of the Earth, this becomes more and more poignant, so it’s better to include than to not include. Particularly, be sure to include it in situations like my story above where the time is the highlight of the topic at hand.
In summary, these lesser talked about mistakes are still things that happen frequently enough to be worth addressing. Even if you think you’d never make them, they’re good to keep in mind regardless, If you have made them, well, everyone makes mistakes and it’s always something you can fix in the future. If this article taught you nothing, perhaps it at least brought to your attention your own pet peeve you’ve noticed happening more.
Image: Time zones courtesy of geralt on Pixabay.