There are many fine points of grammar that you can spend time correcting. As you learn to catch those problems in your self-edits, there will be fewer issues in your manuscript.
To give you a boost in the right direction, here are 6 tips to keep in mind.
Use strong verbs:
He strolled through the forest.
He walked through the forest.
He walked slowly through the forest.
Which is better? The first example is best because it shows how he walked. Using adverbs(third example) can easily clutter up your writing. If you choose to use adverbs, use them sparingly and make sure you cannot accomplish your purpose without one.
Watch the passive verbs:
The dog was hit by a car.
The car hit the dog.
The first is an example of passive voice. The action was done to the subject. The second sentence is stronger because the subject does the action.
Don’t use the passive on accident. Only use it to accomplish a specific purpose. For example, in mysteries where you do not know who did the action, a passive would be appropriate.
There are several usages of verbs that weaken your writing- make it feel passive- without being passive voice and you need to be on the lookout for these as well. Tracy Crump offers an excellent explanation on the subject.
Watch out for clichés.
Don’t say something that has been around the world several times. When you find a cliché in your writing, pause and come up with your own unique twist. Something fresh. In your own voice.
Check for redundant/overused words.
There are times when a word is used repetitively (on purpose) for effect or to drive home a point. Typically, the same word over and over gets old and can drive your reader crazy. Break out the thesaurus. Use the RIGHT word. It will give your story zing.
Check for incorrectly used words. Don’t trust your spell/grammar check on this one.
There. They’re. Or their. Your spell check will say all is well. But how does it come across to your readers if you say: there going to the park, they’re dog ate the rat, or their is a party tonight? The next tip will help you catch these tricky spots.
Read your manuscript aloud before you pass it on. Listen for wordiness. Misused words. Places where your tongue trips over itself. These are all places to go back and work on.
Find a good grammar reference-a must have for your writer’s library.
- Writer’s Digest is a good place to start. If your budget is short, check to see if the library carries the book you want.
- Grammar Girl: You can also find her on Facebook.
- The Curious Place of the MisplacedModifier by Bonnie Trenga. This book is short and to the point with exercises. Covers the subject of passive voice well.
What tips and resources have you found helpful?
Angela D. Meyer lives in NE with her husband and two children whom they homeschool - recently graduating their son. She has taught Bible class for over 35 years and is on the leadership team of her local Christian writers group. She loves God, her family, the ocean, good stories, connecting with friends, taking pictures, quiet evenings and a good laugh. Someday she wants to ride in a hot air balloon and vacation by the sea.
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