Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Before You Send Out to Readers . . .

So you've gotten your manuscript ready to go out to readers. You're excited because you know how close you are to being ready for submission . . . you'll get this feedback, you'll make the suggested changes, and you're finished, right? Well, pretty close. But don't think this step is going to be a piece of cake. That's a mistake a lot of writers make -- they hurry and get the manuscript out to readers before it's really ready.

Here are some tips to help you get that manuscript as ready for readers as you possibly can -- keeping in mind that if you take out the glaring problems now, your readers will have an easier time spotting the more complex problems.

1. Go through and do a search for "was." Most of the time, when the word "was" is used, you can change it to more of an active voice. Instead of saying, "She was sitting on the porch," say "She sat on the porch." This brings your reader into closer contact with the story, and it eliminates the repetitive use of "was."

2. Go through and do a search for "that." Most of the time, "that" is used when it's not needed. "She thought that he'd be there to pick her up at three." Take it out and see what you've got ... "She thought he'd be there to pick her up at three." It's the same thing, but "that" gets repetitive and makes your sentences wordy.

3. Go through and make sure all your punctuation is still there. I've noticed when I edit for people that as they take out words they've been told to take out, sometimes the punctuation gets taken along with it, erased accidentally by the cursor being in the wrong place.

4. Go through and take out fully 3/4 of your adverbs. Keep only the ones that are absolutely needed -- most are indicated by the context, anyway, and aren't necessary.

There you have it -- four steps to help make your manuscript ready for readers. These aren't the only things to watch out for -- there are many -- but these are the most common mistakes and the most common detractors from the story. With these things out of the way, your readers will be able to concentrate on the things that remain and help you polish the story until it shines.


Lynne said...

Tristi - Just wanted to let you know that I received your book in the mail today. It looks terrific!

I'll be reading it soon!

Shellie said...

Sounds like great advice.

Dan and Wendy said...

Thanks Tristi. I significantly decreased my word count by getting rid of unecessary "thats."

Maybe that's what Mark Twain meant when he said, "If I had more time, I would've written a shorter book."

Keep the tips coming.

carrie & troy keiser said...

It is fun to read all the tips.... helps even people like who who aren't planning to write a book. I just want my posts to sound like I know what I'm talking about!

Rachelle said...

Great tips Tristi! I just did the that search on my manuscript. Man, we use "that" word a lot! :)
It was so good to see you at the conference and I can't wait to read your book!

Danyelle F. said...


Fantastic comments. When I edit for writers, I often send back a page filled with words to search for because they've been over-used. Now, as a writer myself, I do exactly the same thing. I even search for them, but others still tend to find more. That's why I love sending my stuff out to a new set of eyes!

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