Here are the top ten revising rules I live by as a writer:
- Avoid adverbs whenever possible. Adverbs can signal weak verbs.
- Do a “find and search” for commonly overused words such as: just, even, that, really, going to, or whatever your pet-problem-words happen to be.
- Unless you are writing for young children, limit speaker tags such as said, says, or asked. Convey who is speaking through action.
- Show don’t tell.
- Only put one space at the end of each sentence.
- Write out numbers between one and ninety nine. After that use numerals like 1,543.
- When you write in capital letters use small caps. You can find them in the font section of Microsoft Word.
- Don’t be too nice to your characters. Suffering adds tension to the plot. More info here.
- Including the title of a book, song or poem is okay, but don’t share anything else unless you have written permission from the owner or the copyright has moved to the pubic domain.
- The inciting incident must happen in the first ten pages. If it doesn’t happen until page twenty, you haven’t found your book’s true beginning. More info here.
In my own personal writing, I revise a manuscript at least twenty two times before I show it to my agent. Part of that process includes incorporating feedback from critique partners and beta readers. I revised my novel BLANK SLATE, which will be published by Month9Books in 2016, twenty eight times before it went on submission!
My mantras are “No draft is a wasted draft,” and “Good writing = massive revising.”