It’s that time of year again. Something about the change of season combined with warmer weather motivates us to purge our closets and deep clean our bathrooms. You know what else could use some sprucing up? Your writing.
If you’ve got a piece that just needs a little polishing, we’ve put together the write checklist to help you “spring clean” your work …
Find and remove your “crutch” words.
Do you have a word that you end up using often, even though it’s unnecessary? Use the search feature on your word processing software (Ctr+F in Google Docs and Microsoft Word) to find and remove them. Examples include:
– A bit
Check your prose for style consistency.
Do you italicize titles or use quotes? Is it “Internet” or “internet?” These style issues (capitalization, punctuation, format, etc.) are decided by what style guide you use. For example, the Chicago Manual of Style or AP Stylebook. Your editor will eventually make the final call, but to help your prose look professional, it’s a good idea to pick one style guide and adhere to those rules.
Double-check your outline.
Perhaps you’re meeting your daily word count goals, but is it possible you’ve veered off course from your plot? Take some time to review your work to date. Is it following your original outline? Do you need to revise your outline? Or get your prose back on the plot track?
This is an easy one and a great thing to do if you don’t feel like writing-writing. Review your work for any spelling or grammatical errors. Remember that spell check may not find a word that is misspelled in context. For example, “their” instead of “there” or “you’re” instead of “your.” An editing software like Grammarly can help or review your work with a sharp eye to fix any mistakes.
Remove that double space after a period
If you are younger this may not be a problem for you, but those of us born before 1980 are used to putting two spaces after a period. This was instilled in us in Typing class. Again, your word processing software’s search feature is a great tool. Use it to find double spaces after periods and replace them with single spaces.
Review and reconsider your adverbs
Some famous authors, such as Stephen King, abhor the adverb. A newer movement defends it. It’s impossible to totally rid your work of all adverbs. A general rule is to use only one “ly” word for every 300 words. Review your work and scrutinize your adverbs. Do you really need it or are you being lazy in your descriptions? For example, “the music blared” is a better way of saying “the music played loudly.” Revisit your “ly” words and see if there is a stronger way to describe something.
And finally, the best way to “spring clean” your writing, is to …
Join book inc’s Book Revision Lab
Our Book Revision Lab is a six-month program designed for writers ready to revise their memoir or novel manuscripts. With a focus on community, the Book Revision Lab provides feedback, support, and guidance so that writers can explore and realize the artistic and commercial potential of their books. Learn more & apply.