Stop. Just Stop (Doing These Things)

All editors and agents have a few pet peeves. Some of us have more than a few. In my case, it’s a virtual menagerie. So, while you may want to keep my OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), ODD (oppositional defiant disorder), and OCC (overly cantankerous condition) in mind as you read, please consider the following list of “things you should stop doing immediately and forever” if you’re writing for publication.

Stop writing “the reason why.”

The reason you should stop writing “the reason why” is that the word why is always unnecessary in the phrase. See what I mean?

 Stop putting two spaces after a period.

Back in the olden days, when us old folks learned to type, we were taught to hit the space bar twice after a period. Since the advent of computers and their magical spacing properties, this has been unnecessary. So, stop it. Unless you’re still using a typewriter (in which case I bow to your old-world wizardry).

 Stop writing “forward” or “foreward” when you mean “foreword.”

Seriously, writers, we’re supposed to know this. A foreword is the section of a book before (see the word fore there?) the author’s content—usually written by someone famous or influential. Forward, of course, means “moving ahead.” And there’s no such word as foreward.

 Stop writing “end result.”

I will grant that the phrase is acceptable in rare instances, when various results are mentioned prior to an “end result.” But seeing “end result” used when “result” will suffice results in a shudder from me.

 Stop hitting return repeatedly to create a new page.

This is another holdover from typewriter days, I guess. But in modern word-processing programs, the way to create a new page (after a partial page of text) is to “insert” a “new page,” not by repeatedly pressing the “return” or “enter” key until a new page appears (which will very likely change when the document is opened on a different computer or when edits are made in the document).

Stop writing “where it’s at”

Like “the reason why” and “the end result,” “where it’s at” (unless it’s in a passage of groovy dialogue) is better stated as “where it is.”

Stop writing “small little.”

We say things in speech we wouldn’t put in writing. So don’t write sentences such as, “It was a small little community.” It’s redundantly redundant.


Obviously, the end result of all this is that we can all agree that such small little things are the reasons why some people don’t associate with me. But please believe me when I say that these pet peeves are where it’s at. And, if you’re a writer, where it should be.


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