An Editor’s Golden Touch
from Sharon Ledwith
Do you want to know how to make your manuscript stronger? Polished? Close to publication? Psst…I can help with that. Correction—my former editor, Kathy Teel, can help with that. The following advice is gold to writers seasoned or new. Read on…
- The word “as” is not your friend. It is almost never your best choice. In any MS, find all occurrences of it and cut at least half. This is especially true when it occurs near a dialogue tag.
- You don’t need both an action tag and a dialogue tag. For example: Jojo sneered at him, saying, “That was helpful.” Those should look like this: Jojo sneered. “That was helpful.” (This is where many of those words were cut)
- Dialogue tags go after the first clause in the dialogue, not at the end, unless it’s a short bit of dialogue and we know exactly who’s speaking. “Thanks,” Monkey said. “You never know when you’re going to need an antique bassoon.”
- Avoid adverbs, especially around dialogue tags. “I hate you, you big fat jerk!” Merry screamed furiously. No, really, he’s furious? We got that from the dialogue AND the verb (scream), you don’t have to beat us with it by adding on an adverb.
- People don’t usually use each other’s names very much when speaking together.
- A sentence with 2 independent clauses does not have a comma: My daughter turned on Dr. Who and her friend rolled her eyes. NOT: My daughter turned on Dr. Who, and her friend rolled her eyes.
- Use “said” 95% of the time. Delete your thesaurus’ entry for the word “said,” and don’t use replacement words for it, except in very rare absolutely necessary cases.
- Don’t use dialogue tags at all unless it’s otherwise unclear who’s speaking. If you need to indicate who’s speaking, try to use an action tag instead of a dialogue tag: Jingle jumped out of his chair. “I know that elf!”
That’s it. Well, not all. There’s always something when it comes to polishing and gleaning your manuscript to share with the world. The above sage advice was passed on to me because I made these common mistakes. I thought I’d share them so that any writer reading this may in turn, better their best.
Here’s a glimpse of the premises of both my young adult series:
The Last Timekeepers Time Travel Adventures…
Chosen by an Atlantean Magus to be Timekeepers—legendary time travelers sworn to keep history safe from the evil Belial—five classmates are sent into the past to restore balance, and bring order back into the world, one mission at a time.
Children are the keys to our future. And now, children are the only hope for our past.
Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls Teen Psychic Mysteries…
Imagine a teenager possessing a psychic ability and struggling to cope with its freakish power. There’s no hope for a normal life, and no one who understands. Now, imagine being uprooted and forced to live in a small tourist town where nothing much ever happens. It’s bores-ville from the get-go. Until mysterious things start to happen.
Welcome to Fairy Falls. Expect the unexpected.
The Last Timekeepers Time Travel Adventure Series:
The Last Timekeepers and the Noble Slave, Book #3
The Last Timekeepers and the Dark Secret, Book #2 Buy Links:
The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis, Book #1 Buy Links:
Legend of the Timekeepers, prequel Buy Links:
Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls Teen Psychic Mystery Series:
Lost and Found, Book One Buy Links:
Blackflies and Blueberries, Book Two Buy Links:
Sharon Ledwith is the author of the middle-grade/young adult time travel adventure series, THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS, and the award-winning teen psychic mystery series, MYSTERIOUS TALES FROM FAIRY FALLS. When not writing, researching, or revising, she enjoys reading, exercising, anything arcane, and an occasional dram of scotch. Sharon lives a serene, yet busy life in a southern tourist region of Ontario, Canada, with her spoiled hubby, and a moody calico cat.
Learn more about Sharon Ledwith on her WEBSITE and BLOG. Look up her AMAZON AUTHOR page for a list of current books. Stay connected on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, PINTEREST, LINKEDIN, INSTAGRAM, and GOODREADS.
BONUS: Download the free PDF short story The Terrible, Mighty Crystal HERE