There are various ways in which your word processor can help you in revision. Check your manuscript before you send it out to others to proofread. These tips are simple, yet effective.
- Perform a seek and destroy mission for the word “very”. It can usually be eliminated, since it’s almost never necessary.
- Perform search and destroy missions for common typos, e.g. fro (for).
- Perform search and destroy missions for overly complicated phrases that do not add meaning, e.g. “
the fact that” “that”
- Seek out adjectives and adverbs by searching for “ly”. Try to replace them with strong verbs whenever possible.
- Track down your overuse. Do a global search for stop words or phrases you tend to use a lot and set it to light them up like christmas trees in your story.
- Don’t use more than one punctuation mark unless necessary. E.g. “…” is a necessary repetition for effect. However “!!!” is never necessary, one is enough.
- Check your profanity use and make sure it is suitable for the audience you had in mind.
- Check if you start two sentences or two paragraphs in a row in the same way. Change one of them if that’s the case. Set your right-margin to the highest value your program allows (and, if you’re using a non-graphical program, select the smallest point size for your text that you can), then reformat the document. You’ll end up with almost all of your paragraphs as single long lines, scrolling off the right-hand side of the screen. You can then compare how each paragraph begins.
- Use the spell checker. If it doesn’t offer an alternative spelling after marking a word, take the time to look it up and fix it before sending your manuscript out.
- Use the right language. Use Canadian terms and spelling when sending it out to Canadian agents. Use british terms and spelling when sending it out to british agents and so forth.