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A Handy Checklist to Help You Edit Your Writing

This excerpt from The Writer's Little Helper by James V. Smith Jr., explores the common mistakes that writers make--and how to avoid them. Refer to this checklist when you're ready to submit your manuscript to an agent or editor.

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Amateur and Common Mistakes

Before you send your manuscript or writing sample to an agent or editor, check for these items.

❏ Avoid multiple exclamation points!!!!! Avoid even single exclamation points! Except for the case of a true exclamation, like the rare Rats! Or the too-rare Cubs win!
❏ DON’T WRITE TEXT IN ALL CAPS. It’s too hard to read, and it’s shouting in print. AND WHY SHOUT?
❏ Avoid per, as in per instructions. Other than uses like words per sentence, let cats per.
❏ Use the search function to find -ly words, adverbs. Check each adverb ending in -ly to see if it can be cut. Use stronger verbs and you won’t need the help of adverbs.
❏ Search for -ize and -ization and cut those when you can.
❏ Search for -tion words, too, and cut them down to size.
❏ Affect is a verb meaning to influence. Effect is sometimes a verb meaning to produce, but it’s most often a noun, meaning the result produced.
❏ Impact is a noun not a verb.
Wrong: The ten-pound report impacted him a lot.
Right: The impact of the ten-pound report broke his ribs, his spirit, and his momentum up the career ladder.

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