Years ago I worked with a phenomenal editor on my book The Lost Jewels of Hera. I loved her so much, I’m still with her today. I wanted to share with you the first email she sent me before we got down and dirty working with the manuscript. I wish I’d had an email like this years ago, so I hope it helps you.
Here’s your manuscript. I need you to go through and search out the following words:
Please reword the sentences where these words are found. They’re considered weak words and our goal is to make your prose stronger. Now, if you run across these in dialog, no worries. Keep the flow natural. We speak these words everyday. But the rest gotta go.
Also, search out the conjunctives: for, and, nor, but, or, yet. Check to see if these words connect two complete sentences. If so, put a comma before the conjunctive. If not, leave it out.
Make sure all If-Then sentences have a comma. If the sentence starts with ‘if’, it has a comma where the ‘then’ would have been placed. Ex: If I’d known, then I would’ve done it. If I’d known, I would’ve done it.
Go through and correct:
Towards – should be toward
Forwards – should be forward
Backwards – should be backward
Please reword all sentences with semicolons by either breaking into two sentences, adding a conjunction, or rewording.
Please revise sentences with colons. Ex: Instead of He had one thing on his mind: sex. Change it to He had one thing on his mind. Sex. OR He had one thing on his mind—sex.
So there it is folks. I’ve actually developed this into my initial editing process. I suggest you begin going through yours BEFORE you send it to that agent or publisher. This is not all the editing you will need, but it is a REALLY good start. My thanks to Laura, my editor. I enjoy working with you!
Kelly – great article. I have my own list as you know but there are some here I’ll want to add. I’m amazed when I’m editing other author’s manuscript how often they put the ‘s’ on toward and forward.
Amazing what a few small and well thought out changes can do. They do read with much more power! Thanks, great post.