As I have mentioned elsewhere, writers should never submit their work for editing or proofreading, until they have gone through their first draft carefully and made as many corrections as possible to it themselves. The first draft is the beginning of the writing process and needs to be honed carefully before anyone else sets eyes on it.
It is not my job to correct errors of fact, only errors of grammar, spelling, consistency, sentence construction and style.
I have found the following general errors in many pieces of writing, and I dare say there are many other errors which could be included in the list :
1. Inconsistent use of tenses, such as writing one sentence in the present, the next sentence in the past.
2. Writers who do not correct their work often write a sentence then add something to the end of it as another thought occurs to them. This makes life difficult for the editor, for it means that sentences have to be rearranged and rewritten in order to make sense of them.
3. Padding. Expressions like “to be honest,” “frankly and honestly”, “for me”, and “in my honest opinion”. It is unnecessary to use any of these phrases at all. You are obviously expressing your own opinions (and I hope they are frank and honest) so phrases like these are superfluous padding and hold up the action of your story. Use of words such as “just” and “also” are often superfluous.
4. Inconsistent use of personal pronouns: we, I, it, they, you, and one which often change within a sentence.
5. Avoid frequent use of words like nice and get.
6. Frequent dashes do not make for good reading. Punctuate each sentence properly and make sure each sentence contains a verb.
7. Difference between “its” and “it’s” . “It’s” is short for “it is”. “Its” without an apostrophe is possessive.
8. Be consistent. Either use litres or gallons; kilometres or miles; numerals or numbers in writing. Don’t change these terms from chapter to chapter.
9. Unnecessary capitalisation of words like brother, father, visa, war.
10. Spelling should follow British or American rules – not both in the same article.
I’m sure I will find many more faults as time goes by, so this article is a work in progress. I will be glad of your suggestions.