BlogThe Writing ProcessWriting Advice from Jenna Moreci: The 10 Worst Writing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Writing Advice from Jenna Moreci: The 10 Worst Writing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

A writing quirk is a bad writing habit that sneaks into your manuscript - and threatens to derail it. In this video, author Jenna Moreci explains 10 writing quirks you should avoid to make your manuscript shine.

Find out how ProWritingAid can help you avoid the some of these writing quirks below. And, sign up today for a free trial so you can see for yourself how ProWritingAid can improve your writing.

  1. Crutch Words
  2. Adverbs
  3. Dialogue Tags
  4. Repetition
  5. Homophones
  6. Final Thoughts
  7. Start editing like a pro with your free ProWritingAid account
  8. Try ProWritingAid

Crutch Words

Crutch words are words you use over and over again. At ProWritingAid, we call them Overused Words.

These are the words you subconsciously rely on while you're writing your manuscript. Jenna's crutch word is 'scuttled', but yours might be an intensifier like 'very', or tentative language like 'just' or 'maybe'. You can use ProWritingAid's Overused Words report to see which words you use the most. Then, you can start replacing them with synonyms.

ProWritingAid's Overused Words Report

Pro-tip: Stuck for synonyms? ProWritingAid's Word Explorer can help you find the synonym that works best for your writing.


As Jenna says, adverbs are not inherently evil - until they're overused. Actions tend to describe themselves; you don't need to say that your character 'smiles happily' or 'runs quickly'. If you're using an adverb to intensify a verb, it's worth checking if you could be using a stronger verb in the first place. Check out these examples:

Weak adverbs

ProWritingAid's Writing Style Report will highlight your adverbs for you to help you root out those weak verbs.

Dialogue Tags

A dialogue tag is a verb that refers a piece of dialogue to a specific speaker or character. The most common dialogue tags are said and asked.

In fact, using other dialogue tags like shouted or squealed will brand you as a novice. And it’s worse if you add an adverb. Only use them to let the reader know who is speaking when necessary. For a more sophisticated piece of writing, use action to show who is speaking instead.

Dialogue tag check ProWritingAid

If you're working on a long project, ProWritingAid's Dialogue check will help you scan your document for dialogue tags so you can see where you need to change them, saving time spent trawling through your manuscript yourself.

Pro-tip: The Dialogue check also calculates the percentage of your document that contains dialogue and compares it to published works. Novels rarely contain under 10% or over 80%. Somewhere in the middle is enough to move your readers along without boring them with too much narrative or inane chatter.


Using the same word multiple times in close proximity will throw your reader off. This is a writing mistake that you might not catch yourself making. But, as Jenna says, when your editor reads your manuscript, repeated words and phrases will be obvious to them right away.

Or will they?

Using ProWritingAid helps you catch the mistakes that copyeditors would spend time fixing in your manuscript before you even send it to them. The Repeats and Echoes reports highlight words and phrases that you've repeated throughout your document, as well as close repeats within single paragraphs.

ProWritingAid repeats report

You can use these reports to find (and cut down on using) your crutch word. This is just one of the ways that ProWritingAid can help you learn more about your own writing.


Homophones and homonyms can catch out even the most experienced writers. When you're writing in a rush, or trying to get your ideas down on the page before they disappear forever, it's easy to use 'its' instead of 'it's'.

ProWritingAid's Homonyms check will highlight all of the homonyms in your writing so that you can check you're using the right word every time.

Final Thoughts

Now you know about these writing quirks you can start finding and fixing them in your own writing. Don't forget to grab your ProWritingAid discount on by watching Jenna's video!

Start editing like a pro with your free ProWritingAid account

When a reader sees a grammar error, they start to lose faith in the writer who made it.

ProWritingAid is one of the best grammar checkers out there - but it's far more than that! The Editing Tool also looks at elements of structure and style that have an impact on how strong and readable your writing is.

More, it helps you learn as you edit, making you a better writer every time you use the program.

Try ProWritingAid

The best way to find out how much ProWritingAid can do is to try it yourself!

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Libby Bushill

Libby Bushill

Editorial Assistant at ProWritingAid

Libby is ProWritingAid's Editorial and Marketing Assistant. When she's not editing and writing blog posts, she can be found spreading the word about ProWritingAid on social media. A recent English Lit grad and co-editor of the University of Reading's A Room of Our Own Project, she loves all things writing and editing and can't wait to work on more projects in the future.

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