A Handy Checklist to Help You Edit Your Writing

fiction writing | getting publishedThis 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.

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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15 thoughts on “A Handy Checklist to Help You Edit Your Writing

  1. meganwiens

    This list really opens my eyes as a writer. I did not know many things that were on this list! For instance, I did not know ‘Impact’ was a noun, and not a verb, and your examples helped me understand this better. These will really help me in the future, thank you!

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