Mystery Writer Recommends Hit List to Improve Writing

A good story is not written; it is rewritten. And often, many times.

Mystery writer Donna Andrews said, “I write okay books and I revise them into good books.”

She works her hit list to improve her writing, including:
  • Looking for forms of “to be” and making the verb active
  • Looking for prepositional phrases that could be replaced with a strong adjective
  • Eliminating “just” and “many”
  • Eliminating “goes” and instead using stronger verbs such as “running” or “strolling”
  • Eliminating “very”

She notes that most of us overwrite so sometimes she will eliminate 10 percent of her copy. “It does wonders for the tautness of the piece,” she says.

Finally, to catch mistakes, she will write using Comic Sans font on the computer. She then prints her piece using a different font. She says, “You see different things that need to be fixed.”

What items are on your writing hit list?