18 Ways To Fix Your Draft

1. Eliminate unnecessary adverbs such as very, absolutely, definitely, mostly, simply, terribly, totally, completely, utterly

2. Strengthen verbs

On Frog Dissection Day, she walked very slowly crept to the classroom and slid into her seat just before the bell rang for the class to end.
She was going planned to jog to the park.
It was a dark and stormy The storm raged all night.
He had drove a tomato red and black Buick Opel back in 1972.

3. Eliminate filler words and phrases, including

as always • at that moment • began to • finally • for some reason • kept [verb +ing] • just then • next • so to speak • continued to • unfortunately
with that • started to • was able to

4. Search for nominalizations: words ending in –tion, –ence, and –ship. Turn these false nouns back into verbs whenever feasible.

His expectation was that she would cook his dinner. [Wordy!]
He expected her to cook his dinner. [Concise]

5. Substitute specific quantities for vague words like some or a few
 
6. Eliminate or reduce repetition and redundancies.
 
7. Look for places where something you’ve written is stated or implied elsewhere or is obvious to the reader.
 
8. Vary your diction to avoid repeating the same word(s) in the same sentence or paragraph, unless you have done so deliberately.
 
9. Look for dangling modifiers: words or phrases that are out of place.
 
10. Consider changing passive voice to active voice.

The ball was kicked. → Nancy Bruce kicked the ball.

11. Be on the lookout for homophones that are often confused, such as peek, pique, and peak; affect and effect; its and it’s.
 
12. In fiction, look for point-of-view (POV) violations. Stay consistently in one character’s POV at a time.
 
13. Avoid using dialogue tags like “shouted,” “hissed,” and “sobbed.” Replace as many as you can with “said” and other neutral tags. Whenever possible, make your dialogue distinctive enough that tags aren’t needed.
 
14. In creative writing, it’s preferable to “show, don’t tell!” It’s best to put the reader directly into a scene. If you have too many narrative passages, you’ll need to turn some of them into scenes, using descriptive details to create setting and dialogue. The narrative should set scenes and move characters from setting to setting.
 
15. Use words appropriately. English contains Latin-based and Anglo-Saxon words. Latinate words are appropriate for formal writing, Anglo-Saxon for informal writing.

He lied about everything. (AS) He prevaricated. (Lat.)
I don’t own a car. (AS) I don’t own an automobile. (Lat.)

16. Fix agreement errors.
 
17. Watch out for tense shifts.
 
18. Know how to use punctuation correctly. When you deviate it should be for effect, not from ignorance.

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