|Photo Credit: Elizabeth Findler|
I don't usually create a formal editorial letter for my clients' works but I tend to make comments throughout the manuscript with both constructive criticism as well as praise for things I've loved. Before sending your manuscript to agents, editors, publishers, give it a quick once-over for these common editorial missteps:
- That and Which - I despise these words. I use them sparingly in my own writing and speech as I consider them unnecessary most of the time. If you're trying to tighten your manuscript, removing these words is a great first step. Read the next sentence and tell me if you need the word.
- Sara knew that she would get more from Adam if she softened her words.
- Now re-read the sentence without the word: Sara knew she would get more from Adam if she softened her words. Did you even notice the word was gone? Probably not. Before submitting your manuscript, go through and remove these superfluous words.
- Example: Carmela was lost in thought watching the waves roll in, her weapon tucked safely against her thigh. The pounding of the rolling waves made a soundtrack to the rolling memories of the previous night. Are your eyes rolling yet? If I read one more "roll" in this paragraph, I'd roll someone's head off their shoulders!
- Rephrase: Watching the waves roll in, Carmela was lost in thought. With her weapon tucked safely against her thigh, she let her mind drift to thoughts of the previous night, finding the sound of the waves pounding the rocks below her a fitting soundtrack. Or something along those lines. I just threw these sentences together but you get the idea.
- Example: The enormous picture window was broken in the struggle. (Thanks @ashlynkane who provided the example.)
- Rephrase: The enormous picture window broke in the struggle. This is probably a poor example of a rephrase as the context of the paragraph may lend to rewriting the sentence altogether: In the struggle for control of the weapon, a single shot pierced the glass of the enormous picture window in the corner.