Monday, October 22, 2007

Common writing suggestions

Here's a running list of common mistakes I find in new submissions--

ADD SENSORY INPUT-- You have sound in your prologue. Add touch, smell, etc. to really draw the reader into the story.

COMMA USAGE—There are many areas where you need a comma, but don’t have one. Refer to The Elements of Style for help with this

COMMA USAGE WITH DIALOGUE-- When you address a name in dialogue, it requires a comma. For example-

"Sure, Jill, ....." instead of "Sure Jill,...."

LOOK FOR TYPOS SPELL CHECK MAY HAVE MISSED—

LOSE FELT-- She felt her heart pounding.---- This is a telling sentence. Instead, write-- Her heart pounded heavy inside her chest.--- This is a showing sentence.

LOSE COULD HEAR-- She could hear her heart pounding.---- This is a telling sentence. Instead, write-- Her heart pounded heavy inside her chest.--- This is a showing sentence.

MISSING WORDS—Check for missing words in some sentences.

OVERALL TIGHTENING-- Try reading through The Elements of Style, then incorporating what you learn into a revision. You can find a copy at just about any bookstore, or an online, readable version here---

http://www.crockford.com/wrrrld/style.html

OVERUSAGE OF –LY ADVERBS-- Lose as many –ly adverb modifiers as possible

OVERUSAGE OF ‘THAT’-- Reread sentences containing the word "that." If the sentence still makes sense without "that," then omit "that."

OVERUSAGE OF AS—Tone down your sentences containing as by switching one sentence into two.

PASSIVE VOICE—Lose as many ‘to be’ and ‘have/had been’ phrases to tone down your passive voice.

SAID—Stick with said or asked when using dialogue tags.

SCENIC DESCRIPTION-CHARACTER DESCRIPTION-use more scenic, character description to draw the reader into the story

1 comment:

Larry Buege said...

I fully agree that the number of dialogue tags should be limited. This is one case where the strongest verb is not an asset. Stronger verbs such as whispered or chuckled will detract from the dialogue. Dialogue tags, when needed, should be seen only by the multitasking inner mind. The outer mind should only see the dialogue with the understanding provided by the inner mind as to who is doing the talking. In addition to said and asked, I would add replied. All three are weak verbs when so used, yet convey information about the speaker.