The Word for Writers
by Dian Moore
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Writer's Manuscript Checklist
Pray about your article and let the Holy Spirit guide your topic.
Be on time. Better - be early.
Let your word processor decide where the end of the line is. Don't hit enter unless you are starting a new paragraph.
Before you turn in your manuscript, check it thoroughly. Good rules of thumb: write it, print it, read it, then revise. After you revise, print it again and read it aloud.
Less is more - Wordiness loses the reader. If you can say it in five words, say it in five words-not fifteen.
Grammar: If you're not sure of grammar, there are several online, free guides to help you. Try
Grammar Errors and
Spelling: Don't trust a spell-checker.
Two, too, to are all the same to a word processor. Try reading your article backward.
Unnecessary words: Get rid of as many unnecessary words as possible - look for these and delete them if possible:
about, all, almost, always, anxiously, eagerly, even, ever, every, finally, frequently, just, merely, nearly, need, never, next, not, often, only, simply, so, that, then, very, well
Passive vs. Active Voice
a. Instead of passive voice, use active voice when possible.
* Words ending in ing are usually passive
* They are, you are, we are passive
* He is, she is, it is passive
* I am passive
b. Almost any word with the word "to" in front of it turns into a passive word.
c. Use active voice
Instead of: She will be walking the dogs.
Use: She will walk the dogs.
Instead of: It could be a hard day of driving. Use: An all day drive is hard.
Instead of: The cyclist is moving his legs to push the pedals harder.
Use: The cyclist's legs pushed hard on the pedals.
d. Test for passive voice:
Put the subject at the beginning of the sentence. If this causes you to write the sentence in passive voice to keep the meaning, then keep it passive.
If the move made your sentence active, you didn't need the passive approach.
Molly was killed by hunters.
(If the focus is on Molly, then the passive construction is necessary).
Hunters killed Molly. (The hunters are more important).
10. Adverbs are usually unnecessary: Adverbs are unnecessary
11. Don't overuse adjectives.
Red, bloody-colored water gushed down.
We know blood is red, and red is a color.
Blood-colored water gushed out of the ground
12. Make sense. Pick your points and follow through in a logical manner.
13. Don't ramble. Keep focused on one or two main points. More points? Write another article.
14. Change paragraphs when you change ideas, thoughts, points of view, speakers or go on to the next idea.
15. Keep paragraphs short. Use white space and put two double spaces between paragraphs.
16. Vary your sentence lengths: Short, long, medium then medium, long, short.
17. Try to use real-life examples or anecdotes. Readers relate to real-life and are more likely to read the whole article if it's relevant to their experience.
18. If you use dialogue, keep it simple. Use he said, she said instead of 'he whispered quietly' or 'she murmured' or 'they all shouted loudly.'
A short speech tag like 'he said' becomes invisible and moves the story along.
19. Move your characters, but don't tell about each step:
Bad: Carole walked slowly toward the door. She opened it and smiled gently at the man standing there. She invited him in and walked back into the living room.
Instead: Carole answered the door and smiled at Michael. Come in, she said.
20. Ease into the ending. Don't leave your reader unsatisfied with an abrupt stop that doesn't tie-up loose ends
21. Pray again. Thank the Lord for His Divine touch on your heart, your words and your message.
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What a most excellent writers tool to take advantage of. I especially appreciate and need the Grammar Errors link. Thank you for writing this very useful article. - Nancy
A good review for writers, Dian. I just went through some of my printed reference sheets on grammar uses last night. Every now and again I need to be reminded of the "little" things to watch out for. Thanks for your list of ideas. May God continue to bless you as you bless us and honor Him. ladybug Karen
Dian, Thanks for the new points and for the useful reminders. Much love, Rita