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Monday, February 1, 2016

Check List

One of the best pieces of advice I can give is to make a self-editing checklist.

When a critique partner or editor makes a comment--such as delete 80% of the word "that"--add it to the list.

Then, when you've finished your first or second draft, go through your list doing a Find for the words or phrases, or checking for slips like misplaced modifiers.  Whatever is on your list, make sure you've taken care of it.

The more you catch instead of the submission editor the better!  Not only will your manuscripts be cleaner, your writing (drafts and final products) will improve with each story because the more you use your list, the more aware you will be as you write the next one...and the next and the next.

Here are just a few items to start you off:

  • that--delete at least 80% as most uses are not necessary
  • your versus you're--double check you are using the correct one
  • its versus it's--double check you are using the correct one
  • misplaced modifier--when the descriptive word/phrase doesn't match the subject it is meant to describe. e.g.: Rushing to the door, her heart skipped a beat.  Her heart is not rushing/running to the door, she is.  Therefore, the sentence needs to be rephrased.  Her heart skipped a beat as she rushed to the door.

Keep adding to your list with each manuscript.  The more aware you are, the stronger your writing will be.

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