Monday Motivation: Tips to transform your writing instantly
I’ve been involved in editing manuscripts of many kinds in recent weeks. Coincidentally, Trish asked me to proofread an editing checklist that we’re printing on a bookmark for distribution to a self-publishing conference – and I realised that it might be as useful to you as it was to me.
Here it is:
- Read your writing out loud taking special note of the dialogue.
- Does the dialogue help propel the story forward or is it simply empty chit-chat or, worse, has it been included to explain things to the reader?
- Check your punctuation. If you’re not sure what’s right, find out.
- Pay great attention to the punctuation used in dialogue.
- Take out unnecessary speech tags and synonyms.
- Are your sentences monotonous? Vary the length and allow your sentences to reflect the mood you’re trying to create.
- Check for and replace repeated words.
- Don’t start a scene by explaining. Throw us directly into the action, and the moment. Try to identify the most dramatic entry point to the scene. Start late and end early.
- Make sure your characters are doing something. What “business” can you give them to help your characters through the scene?
- Create a context in each scene. Show the world. Don’t be tempted to write only dialogue. A conversation shouldn’t happen in a vacuum.
- Use sensory details.
- Beware of the much overused ‘as’ and ‘while’ sentence constructions. It’s usually more effective just to break the sentence up.
- Always check for weak unspecific verbs – pulls, puts, grabs, walks, gets – and replace them with verbs that are strong and specific.
- Are your descriptions generic? Rather use specific details.
- Restraint is a writer’s best friend.