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  • Dianne McCartney

Five Ways to Kick a Manuscript into Shape.

Take your manuscript to the next level. Try these tips to get it into shape fast!


1. Kill every passive you can find. The most common passives are: was, were and had been. I used to circle mine with a bright red marker, so that they stood out.


2. Remove any repetition. Words like that, just, and so are the most obvious sins, but we all have pet words we use too often. Mine used to be the word ‘get’.


3. Have a hard look at dialogue. Do all of your characters sound the same? They shouldn’t because we all have different levels of education, come from various areas and one person will talk more than the person next to them.


4. Vary the length of your sentences. A lot of people roll their eyes at this one, but sentences that are all the same length can ruin your pacing.


5. Read your manuscript out loud. It’s a sure way to catch an awkward phrase. If you hate reading out loud, find a willing friend to do it for you.


Question of the week: What is the single most helpful thing you do to prepare your manuscript for a contest or an editor?

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