Having trouble keeping your story fluid? Getting too many rough reviews? It never hurts to revisit the groundwork or the basics of literature. I find that readers become disinterested due to the way things are written, rather than the story itself. A story can be fantastic, but if it’s written poorly a reader will move on to the next novel. These basic rules will keep any manuscript clean and help elicit advice from proofreaders.
- Break up your paragraphs, large paragraphs intimidate potential readers.
- In a book manuscript paragraphs shouldn’t extend more than half a page.
- Follow short paragraphs with long paragraphs.
- New speaker or line means a new paragraph. Whenever one character is replying to another, another paragraph is started.
- Follow long sentences with short ones and vice versa.
- Use toneless words such as “said, replies, responded” more than the exciting synonyms. That way these synonyms become more significant or interesting to the text. It also pushes a chapter’s tone to have characters beginning with “said” and then turn to screaming, whispering, mumbling, or even sighing.
- Avoid unspecific epithets such as “the other man got up”, “the taller woman sat down”, or “the blonde walked away.” Either rewrite the sentence, or name the character. If you have to use an epithet, use it in humor or foreshadowing. For instance, “The Scottish lass stormed away, her red hair just a shade lighter than her flushed face…” Or “Little did the friends know this would be the last time they saw their ‘lucky’ Irish friend…”