In my effort to improve at writing and storytelling, I hired an editor from Upwork.com to critique my last story. The unedited version is here, and the revised version can be read here. They aren't very different, so if you've already read the unrevised version it's probably not worth the time to read the revised edition, and if you haven't read it at all yet, you can just go straight for the revised edition.
Here are thing I will add to my proofreading checklist:
🕺 Ditch Passive Voice for Active Voice
Supposedly, writing teachers prefer the use of active voice - "He hit the ball" - over passive voice - "The ball was hit by him." Active voice makes your writing 💪 STRONGER 💪 and well... more active. It can be used when going for a certain style or in niche cases, but should generally be avoided. This article from the Grammarly blog discusses the topic extremely well. I loved the article's hook too. The most valuable nugget I mined there was: "if you search your document for instances of was, is, or were and your page lights up with instances of passive voice, it may be a good idea to switch to active voice."
✂️ Cut Out Redundant Words and Phrases️
Simply put, be more brief. My editor delivered an excellent Stephen King quote to get this point across.
"go investigate" -> "investigate"
"looked over and could see" -> "saw"
"figuring he'd leave" -> "leave"
🙊 Avoid Clichés During Narration
Some clichés that would easily pass me by include:
- And they all lived happily ever after.
- In the nick of time
- Without a care in the world
- Head over heels in love
Note that these are fine to use in dialogue, depending on the character.
📣 Comb through dialogue punctuation
I did not know this. In dialogue, speaking verbs like asked, yelled, and said get commas while gesture verbs like sighed, shrugged, and grimaced get periods.