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41: Seven Easy Ways to Improve Your Manuscript
Episode 4127th July 2022 • Writing Pursuits • Kathrese McKee
00:00:00 00:11:53

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Before you send your manuscript to an agent, editor, or your beta readers, use these steps to immediately improve your manuscript.

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

The question of the week is: What are your favorite last-minute checks before your send your manuscript out?

Get your free copy of the First Chapter Rubric.

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Transcripts

Kathrese:

Before you send your manuscript to an agent, editor

Kathrese:

or your beta readers use these steps to immediately improve

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your manuscript. We're gonna go over seven easy ways to improve

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your manuscript as part one of a two part series. In this episode

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of writing pursuits. Welcome to the writing pursuits podcast

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where authors like you discuss writing craft, author, life and

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book marketing strategies. I'm your host Kathrese. McKee. I own

Kathrese:

writing pursuits and write and produce the weekly newsletter

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writing pursuits tips for authors. In addition, I am a

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speculative fiction author. Writing pursuits is for authors

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who drink too much coffee, endure judgemental looks from

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their furry writing companions and struggle for words. If you

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are a writer seeking encouragement, information and

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inspiration, this podcast is for you. Let's get to it. Hey,

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writing pursuits, authors. Welcome back to the podcast. For

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those of you who are new, I want to extend a special welcome. My

Kathrese:

name is Kathrese. McKee, and I'm glad you're here. Please leave a

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comment a star rating and follow the show to help others find

Kathrese:

writing pursuits. A reader asked me a question about word marker

Kathrese:

edits, or marker edits was the name of my author services

Kathrese:

business for many years. And I decided when I started this

Kathrese:

podcast, writing pursuits that I would just change everything to

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the same name, writing pursuits, podcasts in the writing

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pursuits, website and word writing pursuits author

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services. Anyway, it's all one thing. If you find things in it

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within the site, that are labeled word marker edits,

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they're just remnants of things that were before that haven't

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been updated yet. So it's one in the same. It's the same person.

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I appreciate the question from the reader. And I just wanted to

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make that clear to anybody that had that same question. All

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right, today ways to improve your manuscript. Number one,

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check your spelling. This seems obvious to use your program

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spell checker before you send your document out. It sounds so

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obvious, but a large percentage of the manuscripts I receive

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from authors have not been through this basic step. Every

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major word processing program has a way to check spelling,

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including Microsoft Word, Google Docs, Scrivener Open Office and

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word WordPerfect. By Carell. If you're using notepad that's on

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you. So use the spell checker before you send it out. It'll

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save you some embarrassment down the line. All right, number two,

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search for weasel words. weasel words are those words we use in

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regular conversation that don't help our pros. They don't add

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meaning they don't clarify anything. We're just used to

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using them. So at a minimum search for really, and very, if

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these words are used outside of dialogue between characters,

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because that's the way we talk. If they're used outside of

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dialogue, then try to find a better way. Also, search for

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turn turned and turning this may be just me, it's my pet peeve.

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Many authors overuse these verbs, especially in beats,

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unless the direction your character is facing is important

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to your plot. Then try a more meaningful action to relate

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because turned turned and turning are way overused. I can

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say the same for look looked in looking. And if we are naming

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names, walk, walked in walking or pedestrian at best. I'm sorry

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for the pun. These are valid words all of them are valid

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words, but we tend to wear them out. Number three, search for

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doubles. And what I mean by that is words that you have. you've

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typed in twice in a row, or punctuation marks you have typed

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in twice in a row. Things like the the and and

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period period, question mark, question mark in that list. If

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you're using question mark, question mark and two

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exclamation points in a row, outside of like a text message

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in your book, then I think you need to go back and rethink your

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life. Let's have some standards of grammar. These are the

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easiest levels to find and it is worth the time invested to

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remove them yourself. Remove hidden tab characters. If you

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use your tab key to indent a paragraph. You insert a hidden

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character in your manuscript just as you do when you use the

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Enter key to see these hidden characters in Microsoft Word.

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Click the paragraph icon on the home menu tab. Many people have

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a certain age learn to type on an electric typewriter. We I

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mean, they learn to use the tab key to indent paragraphs and hit

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the spacebar twice at the end of each sentence. It is difficult

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for us I mean them to unlearn these habits. So, tab characters

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are evil, they will cause unwelcome surprises down the

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line. Use paragraph formatting in your word processing program

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to create indentation instead of using the tab key. If you want

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to achieve expert level in Microsoft Word, learn how to use

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Styles. To avoid inserting tab characters by accident. Turn on

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the option to set left and first indent with tabs and back

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spaces. To do that, in Microsoft Word, go to File Options,

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Proofing choose AutoCorrect Options and check the box under

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automatically as you type. This is illustrated in the

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accompanying blog post find the link to the blog post in the

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show notes. Writing pursuits is run by Kathrese. McKee, who has

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been trusted by fiction authors since 2014. To take their

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writing to a new level of excellence. Guthrie's is a three

Kathrese:

story methods certified editor who specializes in story

Kathrese:

diagnostics, coaching, and line editing to help you prepare your

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story for the journey ahead. For more information, go to writing

Kathrese:

pursuits.com. The link is in the show notes. And now back to the

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podcast. Number five. Read your manuscript aloud. Don't skip

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this step. Read your manuscript aloud. If your throat gets sore,

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then use the software to read the manuscript to you while you

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follow along. problems you can eliminate by reading your

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manuscript aloud are missing words, repeated words and

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phrases, unexpected hair and eye color changes out of character

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speech patterns. Suddenly, Bruce doesn't sound like Bruce

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anymore. He sounds like Harry, you'll find those things. When

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you read aloud, character name changes and errors. Unnecessary

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speech tags, like said said said said it'll start to show up and

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you'll hear it and you'll be able to get rid of the ones that

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are not necessary, awkward phrases and descriptions, time

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shifts in your novel and physical impossibilities. When

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you read your manuscript or aloud, I can't stress this

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enough, you will hear the mistakes you no longer can see.

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So read your manuscript aloud number six, insert page numbers.

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This tip sounds silly, but page numbers get left out all of the

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time. Give your editor agent or beta readers a way to refer to

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problems. To comment on your manuscript to reference places

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in your manuscript. Give them the page numbers they need, or

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hey, give them a way to keep the printed pages in order. So

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that's a common courtesy use page numbers. Number seven,

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insert a page break before every chapter, can I get an amen on

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this, do not use the Enter key multiple times. Don't just sit

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there inter inter inter inter to force your chapter to start on

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the next page. Instead, find and use the Page break option and

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use it at the end of each chapter to force a new page. And

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then on the next double spaced page, hit enter six or seven

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times and type your chapter name. Hit enter and start your

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first paragraph of the new chapter. This assumes you're

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using Word or Google Docs. I've illustrated this in the blog

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post that's in the show notes. If you want to get fancy, use

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Styles to create a separate style for first paragraphs to

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omit the indentation for the first paragraph of every chapter

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and scene. That's optional, but you're a step closer to having

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your document formatted for publication. Scrivener chapter

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changes are really easy. All you need to do is use the wonderful

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new text button. That's the plus sign. Name the new chapter and

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start typing. A bonus Scrivener tip in Scrivener one of my

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favorite self editing tools is under Project you go to

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Statistics and choose Word Frequency. This feature is a

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hidden gem, it can reveal potentially embarrassing

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repetition. For example, I noticed in one of my books that

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I used clenched too frequently. I mean, there are only so many

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times a character needs to clench her hands or feel her

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stomach clench. She was anxious a lot, evidently, and I couldn't

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figure out no other way to do it. I was just going on

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automatic pilot and I use clenched all the time. And so

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like you know, I didn't need 15 instances of that in the book.

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It became a little bit comic anyway. So take a few hours

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before you send your manuscript out to tidy things up. Don't

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obsess over it. But if you hit these tie points, you will be

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more confident your work is as ready as you can make it. What

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are your favorite last minute checks before you send your

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manuscript out? Share your tips in the comment at work writing

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pursuits.com forward slash podcast forward slash 41. Also

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in the blog post, there are several resources you can use a

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weasel word list a document with instructions about how to

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prepare your manuscript for an editor or agent in Microsoft

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Word and other resources. So I hope you'll check out the blog

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post that is in the show notes. 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.

Kathrese:

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

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