Monday, July 8, 2013


I’ve been so busy today that I barely have time for a post. So…I thought I’d recycle one that I especially thought was helpful from a few years ago – originally posted 9/19/11. I hope you find something here that you can use.


I’m almost finished with my massive, colossal, humongous, edit. These are the rules I live by when editing. Of course, this list isn't all encompassing. There’s a ton of other great tips at your fingertips. So here, I’ve listed only 25 of the ones I can’t forget:

1.  Don’t over do it on the adjectives. But a few sprinkled throughout the MS is fine.

2.  Avoid starting a sentence with – There are/was/is/

3.  Punctuation and grammar are important.

4.  Avoid starting a sentence with – It is/was

5.   You can delete most (not all) instances of the word “that” from your manuscript without changing the meaning of the sentence.

6.  Don’t start all the sentences with the same first word. Can you say boring.  

7.  Structure your sentences so their not all the same length.

8.   Use a comma before “which” in a sentence with a non-restrictive clause (the information could be removed without compromising understanding).

9.  You do not use a comma before “that” in a sentence with a restrictive clause (the information is vital to the meaning).

10.  Keep the dialogue tags to a minimum. Let the character’s personality be the tag.

11.  Show the reader – don’t tell them.

12.  If you can say it properly in 4 words, don’t say it in 10.

13.  Subjects must agree with verbs, pronouns, and objects.

14.  Use the active form of verbs.

15.  Choose your nouns wisely. A carefully selected noun will not need an adjective.

16.   Watch out for overused words: saw/see, can/could, then, just, look, felt …

17.  Don’t make your villain a wuss. Make him as evil and diabolical as you can.

18.  Don’t start your fantasy world off without first establishing the normal world for your protagonist.

19.  If you’re going first person point of view (especially for YA) go deep.

20.  Cut back on the use of the word “was” and “ing” ending words – it slows the pace of the story.

21.  If you’re writing a YA/MG story and your MS is 120,000 words after the revisions and editing- you probably have an issue.

22.  Don’t go it alone – get a Critique Partner and a Beta Reader (more than one if you can).

23.  Pacing is the key to keeping your audience up all night reading.

24.  Do research your setting if you’re writing contemporary realistic fiction.

25.  Not one tip on this page is guaranteed to make your MS a best-seller. But they’ll enhance what you’ve written and make the possibility of a best-seller more a reality than a dream. And if you haven’t already figured it out, some of these rules can be broken and your story still be a best-seller. The key is knowing when to break the rules.

Do you have a writing tip? We’d love to hear it. Please share your tip in the comments.


Have a great day. Read a book and laugh!!!  



  1. Write passionately and trust in your voice.

    Great advice, Dawn.

  2. This is a great list. Using specific verbs in addition to specific nouns is also a must. You won't need the dreaded adverbs if you use specific verbs.


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