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42: Seven More Ways to Improve Your Manuscript
Episode 423rd August 2022 • Writing Pursuits • Kathrese McKee
00:00:00 00:14:28

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This is part 2 of a two-part series. Part 1 is in Episode 41. Your story is finished. You've reached the end. Your beta readers are waiting, an agent has asked for a full manuscript, or maybe you are getting it ready for your editor. What are some easy ways to immediately improve it before your send it out? Let's find out in this episode of Writing Pursuits.

Read the accompanying post at WritingPursuits.com: "Seven More Ways to Improve Your Manuscript."

The question of the week is: What is your biggest challenge when you revise your manuscript?

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Transcripts

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Your story is finished, you've reached the

Kathrese:

end, your beta readers are waiting. An agent has asked for

Kathrese:

a full manuscript. Or maybe you are getting it ready for your

Kathrese:

editor. What are some easy ways to immediately improve your

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manuscript? Before you send it out? Let's find out in this

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episode of writing pursuits, welcome to the writing pursuits

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podcast where authors like you discuss writing craft, author,

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life and book marketing strategies. I'm your host

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Kathrese. McKee. I own writing pursuits and write and produce

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the weekly newsletter writing pursuit tips for authors. In

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addition, I am a speculative fiction author. Writing pursuits

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is for authors who drink too much coffee, endure judgemental

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looks from their furry writing companions and struggle for

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words. If you are a writer seeking encouragement,

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information and inspiration, this podcast is for you. Let's

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get to it. Hey, writing pursuits, authors. Welcome back

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to the podcast. To those of you who are new, I want to extend a

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special welcome. My name is Kathrese McKee. I'm glad you're

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here. Please leave a comment a star rating and follow the show

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to help others find writing pursuits. This is part two of a

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two part series. The first part was in Episode 41. And you can

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find that at writing pursuits.com forward slash

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podcast. Before you send your manuscript to beta readers, or

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to an editor. Here are seven more ways to immediately see an

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improvement in your manuscript. Number one, get some sleep

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before you revise. If I had $1 for every time I discovered

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errors in my own writing the next day, I would be able to

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attend another conferences here. Something happens when we sleep

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and getting some shut eye before you proofread your draft makes

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errors stand out. I don't know if our brains work overtime at

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night, or if things look different in the light of a new

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day. But taking time away from a manuscript, even a few hours

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lets you see your work in a fresh way. Do not hit publish,

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or send your manuscript off immediately after you think the

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revisions are done. Let time elapse or get some sleep, then

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look it over before you send it into the world. Number two,

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before you revise read for substance. When you are revising

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any project longer than a short story, it is easy to get lost in

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the little stuff and miss the big picture. First, make a

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valiant attempt to put on your quote unquote reader hat and

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read your story all the way through with fresh eyes Does the

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beginning pull you in, or the stakes high enough? This tension

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build is the ending satisfying. Make notes separately,

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preferably on a notepad and your preferably reading on a PDF

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where you can't make changes right away. You're a reader

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after you finish then you can put on your editor hat and make

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revisions number three, vary your sentence structure scan

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your sentences looking for repeated beginnings. For

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instance, she took off her hat and sat on the bench, she opened

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her bag to pull out a mirror and lipstick. If you read your story

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aloud as we discussed last week, this is one of the problems you

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will notice each sentence began with she does the sentence

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structure change not in this instance, what about sentence

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length, make your sentences various length so some are

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short, some are medium and some are long. Change it up. Number

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four, shorten your paragraphs. Speaking of sentence length, you

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also need to be aware of long half page paragraphs. Readers

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crave whitespace so they can speed through your story without

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rereading for clarity. If you need a long paragraph, be sure

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to switch up paragraph link as you go along. Here are a few

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ways to shorten paragraphs to achieve clarity and improve the

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reader experience. Avoid excessive grandiose words break

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up long descriptions by sprinkling in critical

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information as the plot progresses. Instead of doing an

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information dump. Breakup dialogue like your language arts

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teacher tried to teach you, each speaker gets their own

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paragraph. If someone interrupts they get a paragraph break.

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Don't put two people's dialogue in one paragraph. That's a

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frequent error I see. eliminate unnecessary words and phrases.

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If something goes without saying get rid of it, it goes without

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saying watch for that. search out the word that and see if it

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is truly necessary. Many times you can cut the word that

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many times you can eliminate in order to also say the words in

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order to are generally not necessary. So Search for

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adverbs, especially if they're paired with speech tags. I'm so

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happy, she exclaimed joyfully. adverbs are not evil, but they

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are easy to abuse many times you can choose a stronger verb. What

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are the last three tips in this series? Let's find out after a

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word from our sponsor. Writing pursuits is run by Kathrese.

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McKee, who has been trusted by fiction authors since 2014. To

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take their writing to a new level of excellence. Ca threes

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is a three story methods certified editor who specializes

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in story diagnostics, coaching and line editing to help you

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prepare your story for the journey ahead. For more

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information go to writing pursuits.com. The link is in the

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show notes. And now back to the podcast. So far we have talked

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about resting before revising, reading for substance, varying

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sentence structure and shortening paragraphs for

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readability number five stick with said and asked speech tags

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much like the previous tip, there are no villains among

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speech tags. It is fine to use replied, exclaimed, shouted,

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murmured and so forth, but said and asked are invisible to the

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reader. Other speech tags can sound stiff and artificial,

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especially if overused. I need to be clear, he explained. You

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don't need to say anything she interposed Oh, but I must, he

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argued. Let's rewrite that. I need to be clear. He said she

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shook her head. You don't need to say anything. He grabbed her

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arm. Oh, but I must. Yikes. Let's see how much information

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the beats added. Minimize speech tags and make the beats do the

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heavy lifting. Number six, elevate your dialogue? Have you

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ever thought of the perfect response hours after an intense

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conversation? At last you think of a funny turn of phrase that

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what is defuse the situation? Now maybe that's just me. I

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confess the right words do not come to me when the pressure is

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on. So I stand there like a lump which is probably better for my

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continuing relationships because sarcasm is my first language.

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What's really going on while I stand there in silence is I am

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biting my tongue grasping for a grown up mature response.

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However, I think the quick witty comeback is one of the reasons I

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write fiction written dialogue is an author's opportunity to

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make the perfect retort sound natural. Your shy character gets

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the slipping Zinger, hey, you can make it happen, but not if

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your dialogue is too realistic. In real life. Our conversations

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are cluttered with inane comments about the weather, or

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the movies, our workouts and forgive me our kids soccer games

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elevate your dialogue by making it better and more focused than

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real life. Millions of people watch Gilmore Girls reruns for

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the fast talk. We secretly wish our conversations could be half

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as witty as theirs. Your work does not need to be as sharp and

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snappy as a one liners and Gilmore Girls, but a sure way to

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improve your manuscript is to cut the deadwood out of your

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character's interactions. Number seven. The final tip is to avoid

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overusing proper names. Robin Williams was a master of using

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humor to evoke memories and poke fun at pretentious behavior. As

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the genie and Aladdin he mimicked the funny way

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broadcasters speak to co hosts during holiday parades

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frequently addressing each other by

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names. Don't they look lovely June fabulous, Harry. I love the

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feathers. Imagine proper names use it used continuously

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throughout an entire scene. Ah, Lady period we call her do you

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do today? Poorly Miss Throckmorton I have the Gout you

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see. Oh no. Please let the parrot Winkle. Sit. Take my

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seat. Miss Throckmorton I could never discovered you in that

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way. I will sit here next to Countess Warwick. She's always

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so delightfully energetic. Good day to you. Your leadership are

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such a pleasure to see you lady Periwinkle. Though you are

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looking quite unwell this morning. I dare say you're in a

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lot of pain. Do sit here and prop your foot on the ottoman.

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My husband, the Earl you know find it boast useful. See how

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silly that sounds? You know kind of read it in a British accent

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sorry about that using proper names in dialogue sounds

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unnatural and stilted. Worse. Sometimes authors use speech

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tags in addition to making the characters address one another

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by name. Don't they look lovely June said Harry Jun replied

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fabulous Harry. I love the feathers. If the conversation is

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between two characters, you need few if any tags The characters

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rarely need to address each other by name. Although you may

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sometimes need to state who is doing what, also use pronouns

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when you can because proper names slow the readers down. For

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instance, Matilda studied the two pins left at the end of the

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polished lane, a 710 split. This was her last frame. If she

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didn't pick up the spare. Ben would win two out of three. But

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she had been a champion bowler in college for nothing. No way

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you'll get the spare. Been slouched in his orange hard

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plastic chair, arms crossed, she lifted her ball from the ball

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returning cradle that $10 says I will. Money's easy. What say we

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make this interesting? How weary She glanced his way what was

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going on behind those devilish eyes? The corner of his mouth

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lifted a kiss. If you don't pick up the spare. You owe me a kiss

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when I drop you off. But if you do make it, I owe you a pizza

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dinner. Pizza. From here No thanks. Think I'm cheap. Nah, I

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know a great Italian place where they cook their pizzas in a wood

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fired oven. Nothing but the best. Her eyes focused for one

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moment on his lips. A kiss for Ben or woodfired pizza. She

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nodded. Those were odds she could live with. In this scene.

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The characters names appear once in the speech tags, but their

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lines do not get confused. The more people who appear in the

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scene, the more difficult it is to handle names. Let's add two

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people to the scene. Remember, Matilda is a point of view

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character. Matilda studied the two pins left at the end of the

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polished lane. A 710 split. This was her last frame if she didn't

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pick up the spare. Ben would win two out of three. But she hadn't

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been a champion bowler in college for nothing. Ashley and

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Tom their best friends trail far behind them on the scoreboard.

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No way you'll get the spare Ben slouch in his horns hard plastic

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chair arms crossed. Matilda lifted her ball from the ball

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returning cradle that $10 says I will. Money's easy. What say we

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make this interesting? How weary She glanced his way what was

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going on behind those devilish eyes. The corner of his mouth

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lifted a kiss. Ashley Crone. Really? You can do better than

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that. Yeah, man. Sounds kind of desperate to me. Tom said. Ben

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ignored the interruption. If you don't pick up the spare you owe

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me a kiss when I drop you off. But if you do make it, I owe you

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a pizza dinner. Pizza from here. Thanks. Their friends laughed.

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Think I'm cheap. Nah, I know a great Italian place where they

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cook their pizzas in a woodfired oven. Nothing but the best. Her

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eyes focused for one moment on his lips immediately actually

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covered her face.

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Oh, please tell me you're not actually thinking about it. I

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kissed her Ben are woodfired pizza. She nodded. Those are

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odds she could live with. Sorry, do you have whiplash yet? I

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mean, we went from Victorian England to contemporary American

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romance, no flash, but the principle remains the same.

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avoid overloading your scenes with proper names. In summary,

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get some sleep before you revise. Before you revise read

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for substance. Vary your sentence structures. Stick was

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said and asked for speech tags. Elevate your dialogue above

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everyday conversation. Make your paragraphs shorter. Avoid

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overusing proper names. The question of the week is what is

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your biggest challenge when you revise your manuscripts? Leave

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your answer in the comments at writing proceeds.com forward

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slash podcast forward slash 42. That's all I have for you today.

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Until next time, keep writing. Thank you for joining us today.

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If you enjoyed this episode, please leave a comment and

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follow the podcast. If you're new around here. I hope you will

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sign up for the weekly newsletter writing pursuits.

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Tips for authors that link and all the links mentioned in

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today's episode are in the show notes at writing pursuits.com.

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Please join us on Wednesdays for new episodes and keep writing my

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