Common Writing Pitfalls #5 Things That Get in the Way

Common Writing Pitfalls Series

Things That Get in the Way

Common Writing Pitfalls #5 Things that get in the way

 1.  Put all your punctuation inside quotes. Always.

If you use quotes for emphasis instead of italics, the period or comma still has to go inside.

Example: I wanted him to “understand,” not just agree.

2. It’s personal preference whether you use italics or quotes to emphasize words or write titles.

I prefer italics because it gets rid of your punctuation inside the quotes problem.

 Example: I wanted him to understand not just agree.

Example: I loved the movie “Iron Man,” did you? Vs. I loved the movie Iron Man, did you?

 3.      And that pesky lay verb. Best advice? Use another word but if you don’t, here’s a help I stole from Cec Murphey.

You can check out his Writer to Writer Blog Here.

Lay means to put, but lay it’s also the past tense of lie.

The only way I know to keep them straight is to memorize the rule.

I lie in bed (present)

I lay in bed (past tense).

I have lain in bed (past perfect).

I lay the box on the floor (present).

I laid the box on the floor (past).

I have laid the box on the floor.

4.  Always, always, always run a spell-check and make sure it’s set to pick up grammar also. A box pops up when you hit spell-check that you can mark for grammar.

The EM dash replaces a lot of punctuation. Like the colon and semi-colon. And it’s fun to use J

Example: We agreed to meet laterat least I think we did.

To get the long dash, type your word then two dashes then your next word then space.

Example: laterdashdashatspace (later—at)

6.      Use only one space after a period. When I learned to type, it was two. Times have changed and every editor I know accepts only one.

What gets in the way for you? Leave a comment and let us know!


The Entire Writing Pit Falls Series

Mechanics and Grammar

Point of View

Dialogue Part One

Dialogue Part Two

Power It Up

For your editing pleasure–Writing Tips Page



  1. Yes, I’m confused by the fact that nowadays you only have to put one space after a full stop. I also learnt to put two.

    Do you know why that is?


  2. Lori Freeland |

    I think it’s a spacing/type issue. Less space when you take an entire novel and make all the double spaces single. The publishing world is constantly changing–look at C.S. Lewis and they way he wrote fiction compared to what’s out there now. I’m sure things will change again :)

  3. Regarding one space thing after a period: I always have to do a FIND and REPLACE because I can’t seem to break that habit. Argh!

    • Lori Freeland |

      I don’t do that one, but I have to do a find on the words “just” and “even” because I always use them like eight times in one chapter :(

      • For me, the troublesome unnecessary word that keeps appearing in my writing despite vigilance is “that.” I was comforted today during my quiet time to find several unnecessary “that”s in the gospels!

  4. I don’t know how to punctuate poetry so I don’t put any. Can you give a lesson that?

  5. Lori Freeland |

    I emailed you Emma!

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