With being an editor I am often asked for guidelines or tips.So I thought that I would offer them on a wider scale than individual emails, and do a series of posts. :) I hope this helps.
Tag lines can be difficult. Many get in a "rut" with specific ones and that can kill the flow of your manuscript. Some easy rules to remember:
Said is dead - He said, she said, Jack said, Jill said. There are so many other options- Whined, moaned, groaned screamed, cried, or actions. Many editors will tell you to use actions to break up your dialogue. Mix it up, it will definitely help your flow.
"What do you think," she said with a huff.
"Well," he said, "I think you don't care."
"Of course I care... I love you," she said quietly in reply.
The constant use of said can actually take away from the emotion in a scene as shown above.You can get the same if not more across with actions and using other words.
"What do you think?" She hung her head, hair hiding her face and tear-filled eyes.
"Well, I think you don't care." The anger in his voice hurt as much as the words.
"Of course I care... I love you." Her voice cracked, and the first tear fell, as she raised her head to look at him.
*Suggestion* Use the Find button to search for all of your saids- do a highlight all and see how many you have through your work- it may surprise you!
One thing that is overused are characters names. If you have two or even three or four characters you do not have to link a name with every bit of dialogue. Nor do you have to use a name within every dialogue. If you are wondering if this is you- go through your work and read them out loud, and think about real life. When you are talking to a friend do you use their name every time you say something to them?
"Listen, Jill, I don't-"
"You don't what, Jack?"
"Well, Jill, I don't want to talk about it."
"Too bad, Jack."
See how awkward that flows? With only two characters you could easily get it with:
"Listen, Jill, I don't-"
"You don't what?"
"Well, I don't want to talk about it."
An example of over usage in a paragraph with names could be:
Jack didn't want to hurt Jill's feelings, but if Jill wouldn't listen to him then what could he do? Jill was stubborn that way. She would push and push until what Jill got what she wanted. But was he willing to give in to Jill?
Ok yes that is a bit extreme- but I am showing you what does happen. An easy way to clean that up could be:
Jack didn't want to hurt Jill's feelings, but if she wouldn't listen to him what could he do? His lover had always been stubborn that way. She would just keep pushing until she got what she wanted. But was he willing to give in to her this time?
A descriptor is something else that can be overused:
The vampire hid in the shadows. What vampire in their right mind would come to this part of town? None, but him. She could see the red in the vampire's eyes and could imagine the glint off of his teeth. Vampires, she shuddered to think just how many vampires there really were in this city.
Vampire is over used here. Change it out with euphemisms and get more impact:
The vampire hid in the shadows. What blood sucker in their right mind would come to this part of town? None, but him. She could see the red of his eyes and could imagine the glint of light off of those sharp teeth. The walking dead. Or human sized mosquitoes, one of her personal favorite nicknames for the nighttime horrors . She shuddered as she wondered just how many of them there really were in this city.
This can be used in many ways- and over used as well. That man, monster, beast- we tend to over use words to familiarize, and don't realize how that can slow our manuscript down or make reading tedious instead of enjoyable.
I hope that you found this helpful! I will post again soon with words to watch out for- no-no words, and formatting ideas.