Yes, there are a lot of rules in writing. They can be conquered by practice, practice, practice. It’s hard to remember everything all the time. I’ll admit, I skip over mistakes a lot of time. Here are some pointers I use.
- Watch “ing” words. A few words end in “ing” automatically, like thing and morning. But there are others we add the “ing” to them that does not help your story’s flow. “Getting up in the morning and walking to the door, she fell over something sticking up from the flooring.” There are six “ing” words in that sentence, but only four are truly the culprits. Here’s a better way. “She got up that morning and walked to the door. Something stuck up from the floor.” I’m sure there are other examples that are better, but I think you get the idea. We eliminated four unnecessary “ing” words.
- Flowery sentences and descriptions. Yes, you do need descriptions, but limit them to only the necessary things. Don’t continue to repeat descriptions or use long flowery sentences when you describe something. Tell only the necessary. Don’t go overboard.
- Overdone “said.” You can put a tag or and an attribute without using “said” all the time. You have to be creative as a writer and think of other words to use instead of “said.” Think about what you do when you’re carrying on a conversation with someone. You don’t stand or sit like a mannequin. You move! If there is a long conversation, break it up with some action. You don’t want your reader to have to go back up the page to see who’s talking. Keep it simple for them. In our mind, our characters are people, not paper dolls.
- Stay on track. Don’t chase rabbits. Keep on point. Keep the flow smooth. This helps the reader to keep focused.
These are a few things I try to look for. We work with new authors most of the time, and these are things I notice in manuscripts.