Beware: 28 Pitfalls Ahead! (Part 1)

When you critique the first draft of your manuscript, there are 28 pitfalls to avoid. Here are Pitfalls 1-4:

1. Watch for Impractical Vocabulary
Don’t talk down to your reader, and don’t talk above his or her head. Readers Digest and Guideposts are written on a sixth-grade level. Keep your writing on a parallel level with your reader. Use “ten cent” words rather than ones not commonly used in conversation. You can express profound thoughts and still write in a clear manner.

2. Watch for Unnecessary Words
Eliminate any words, sentences, or paragraphs that don’t further your story line. Go through your manuscript word-by-word and ask yourself, “What will happen if I leave that out? If the answer is “nothing” then cut it.

3. Watch for Unnatural Speech
Your words should flow in a conversational manner as if you were sitting at your dining room table having a cup of tea with a friend. Make your words sound natural. You will be able to do this with practice and lots of rewriting.

4. Watch for Long, Run-on Sentences
If the reader drowns in your sentences, he will feel lost. Keep your writing simple. That doesn’t mean the content is simple, but the style is. When a sentence is shorter, it usually becomes stronger. Try to keep your sentences under twenty-five words.