• Remember that regardless of what is being submitted, the first paragraph or two MUST capture the interest of the reader, editor or agent by raising a question, capturing interest or arousing curiosity to cause them to commit to reading further into the manuscript.
• Using “ing” verb forms is usually a flag that denotes overwriting. In some cases, the author is using participles or gerunds, which should be RARELY used.
• The word “as” is a flag that says “new writer” to the reader. Either eliminate or change every “as” you find in your manuscript.
• Starting sentences with a conjunction (“And” or “But,” etc.) is also the sign of a novice. Starting a sentence with a conjunction should ONLY be used very occasionally for emphasis.
• Sentence fragments should not be used unless they are absolutely unavoidable. A sentence needs a subject (noun) and a predicate (verb). In the case of an order, the “You” which would be the subject of the sentence is understood. In the one word sentence example: “Run!” the “You” is understood to be the subject of the sentence, so it is not explicitly written.
• Run-on sentences: Do not submit “stream of consciousness” works. Make sure that you have punctuated correctly.
• Run-on paragraphs: When the subject of a paragraph changes, you need a new paragraph. Only one person can speak in a paragraph. New speaker = new paragraph.
• Pronouns: A pronoun refers back to the last noun of the same kind. For example, “she” would refer back to the last named woman. If there is ANY doubt to whom or what the pronoun refers, use the noun itself and not a pronoun. This is especially important in dialogue.
• Verb tense: Do NOT mix verb tenses. If you are writing in the past tense (most common), using anything that ends in “ing” is probably wrong. There are exceptions. For example: “The house had running water.” In this example, “running” is a participle and not a verb. Other than the rare exception as last noted, if you use anything ending in “ing,” please double check to make sure it is not overwriting. Overwriting kills any chance that your book will be a “page-turner.” You should either rewrite the “ing” phrase as a new sentence or delete the entire phrase.