When you critique the first draft of your manuscript, watch for the following pitfalls:
- Watch for Impractical Vocabulary
Don’t talk down to your readers, and don’t talk above their heads. Readers Digest and Guideposts are written on a sixth-grade level. Keep your writing on a parallel level with your readers. Use “ten cent” words rather than ones not commonly used in conversation. You can express profound thoughts and still write in a clear manner.
- 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.
- 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.
- Watch for Long, Run-on Sentences
If your readers drown in your sentences, they 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.
Pitfalls 5-8 will be given next week.