“I finished reading Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days. I have AND will highly recommend it to anyone who dabbles in fiction. It’s one of the best “how to” books I’ve ever read.” Marsha Hubler, Director Montrose Christian Writers Conference
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If a paragraph doesn’t seem to read quite right, look for the following problems.
1. Confusing Sentences in a Confusing Order
Changing jobs would solve my problem. I hated my job and its long hours. Especially my slave-driver boss, who always found another task for me to complete before heading home.
I hated my job and its long hours. My slave-driver boss always found another task for me to complete before I headed home. I needed to find a new job.
2. There was/It was
There was much to do on the farm. I never had time to go out with friends or take a girl to the movies. It was frustrating and made me angry.
Farm chores ate up most of my time. I couldn’t go out with friends or take a girl to the movies. I became frustrated and angry.
3. Phrases out of Order
I shut down my laptop, filled a box with all my belongings, and left my resignation letter on the boss’s desk at the end of the day.
At the end of the day, I shut down my laptop, filled a box with all my belongings, and left my resignation letter on the boss’s desk.
4. Weak Pronoun Ending a Paragraph
My husband burned my favorite pot, our dog ran away with a poodle, and my son brought home a report card with straight Ds. I didn’t know how to deal with it.
My husband burned my favorite pot, our dog ran away with a poodle, and my son brought home a report card with straight Ds. I didn’t know how to deal with the catastrophes.
5. Wrong Word Used
The bell rang, and the students scattered into their classrooms.
The bell rang, and the students funneled into their classrooms.
6. Repeated Words
Because there was an APB issued, there must be enough policemen there to handle the pursuit.
Because an APB was issued, enough policemen must have arrived in the area to handle the pursuit.
7. Speaker Attribute Too Distanced from the Beginning
“If I’d started the day earlier, I could have completed all my housework, done the shopping, helped the kids with their homework, and then killed my husband,” Jean said.
“If I’d started the day earlier,” Jean said, “I could have completed all my housework, done the shopping, helped the kids with their homework, and then killed my husband.”
8. Unnecessary Explaining
After paying the bribe, I was low on cash. For Mom’s birthday, I gave her a ring I bought at a pawn shop. She loves jewelry. Ever since she was a young girl, she spent her allowance on jewelry. She even bought me earrings for my sixth birthday. If she learned the source of my purchase, she’d throw the ring back in my face.
After paying the bribe, I was low on cash. For Mom’s birthday, I gave her a ring I bought at a pawn shop. She loves jewelry, but if she learned the source of my purchase, she’d throw the ring back in my face.
9. Informal People Never Using Contractions
Sherry would not forget Dan’s blunder. “You are not my kind of person anymore, Jack. I will tell the gang to snub you.” If only she had not met the creep.
Sherry wouldn’t forget Dan’s blunder. “You aren’t my kind of person anymore, Jack. I’ll tell the gang to snub you.” If only she hadn’t met the creep.
What paragraph problem do you usually catch when you edit?
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If you want to increase your chance of hearing yes instead of sorry or not a fit for our list at this time, this book is for you. If you want to develop stronger story plots with characters that are hard to put down, this book is for you. Through McCarthy’s checklists and helpful exercises and corresponding examples, you will learn how to raise the tension, hone your voice, and polish your manuscript. I need this book for my clients and the many conferees I meet at writer’s conferences around the country. Thank you, Zoe. A huge, #thumbsup, for Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days. —Diana L. Flegal, literary agent, and freelance editor
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This sounds very helpful!
They’re a helpful reminder to myself, Gail.
This is very insightful. Thank you for posting it. Zoe.
You’re welcome, Laurie.
I definitely struggle with sentence structure so this is very helpful!
Erin, while editing I often move sentences around.