Often, writers struggle with telling readers how their characters feel, rather than letting them experience their joys, sorrows, frustrations and triumphs. To see whether you’re telling instead of showing, search your manuscript for typical “telling” words, such as “feel,” “think,” or “realized.”
Re-read the word in context to decide if you’re telling the reader or showing them. If you’re telling, rewrite it so the reader experiences the emotion. To learn more, check out Janice Hardy’s book, Understanding Show Don’t Tell (and Really Getting It).
It’ easy to use certain words and phrases over and over again. So, when you’re done writing a scene, take advantage of your writing software’s “find” function to see how often words appear in your prose. Now go through and cut the ones you can or re-write the sentences to eliminate the repetitions.
When it’s time to tighten a scene, study your characters’ thoughts and feelings and ask yourself what purpose they serve. If they don’t help your readers understand the character’s motivations, consider cutting those lines.
Writing styles change over time. Books you loved that were written years ago might not be publishable in today’s market. This week, pick out three contemporary books in the same genre of your story and plan to read them in your down time.
In compelling drama, bad things happen to the characters; but ending scene after scene on a dark note can exhaust readers. Go back through your manuscript and make sure the negative doesn’t overshadow the positive. Strive for a healthy balanced mixture of both to keep your readers turning the pages.