How to revise & resubmit, Part 5: Fixing your mechanics

Your plot lines are balanced.

Your pacing is consistent.

Your characters are fully developed.

Your tension is heightened and your context is on the page.

Guess what? The hard work is done!

Now all that’s left is to make it sound pretty. You know what that means… Copy and line editing.


What’s the difference, you ask?

Line editing includes the more creative edits like content, writing style, language, etc.

Copy editing is everyone’s least favorite part of writing… grammar.

For the purpose of this blog, I am going to be focusing on line edits. If you are bad with grammar, I strongly urge you to hire a professional editor. There is nothing more embarrassing than sending out a manuscript with a grammatical error in the first sentence.

Been there, done that.

But as an author, line editing is really important for the author to at least take a stab at. Here is where your voice, story and writing style can really shine.



Narrative passages
This is where the infamous “show, don’t tell” phrase comes into play. Be specific and focus on dynamic description instead of inner monologue.

Have you never noticed that characters in movies never actually say “goodbye” before they hang up the phone? There’s a reason. Characters need to dive in and out of the conversation in order to get straight to the meat and keep tension high. Also, beware of too many “he/she said”s… These are a tension killer too.


Dreams flickered through my mind of two small girls, one auburn-haired and one blonde, stuck on a Ferris wheel. Whirling through the sick world of gossip, of bullying, of judgment. No care for their past, no care for their wounds, no care for their futures. 

The look in their eyes… It matched somehow. A mirrored sense of the motion sickness one can only get from a Ferris wheel that spins too quickly.

It’s a gorgeous metaphor, right? But I hadn’t yet introduced one character and the other’s secrets were still locked deep inside. In early chapters, it felt out of place. So after some tightening and some additional exposition, this metaphor was able to find a home later in the novel.


When you write as many as 100,000 words, you’re bound to repeat a few words, sentences or even entire paragraphs. For instance, I had one particular transition that I used four different times. Don’t worry, now is the time to get creative and find new ways of saying the same thing.

Extraneous words or sentences
Now is also the time to trim anything that doesn’t add to the story. Get rid of extra words like “had” and “that.” Take a look at sentences that are redundant or unnecessary. Oh, and delete all words that end in “-ly.” Adverbs are agent repellent.

They may be cliches for a reason in the real world, but they have no place in your manuscript. Be original. Don’t try to mirror other stories or authors. There’s a reason this idea chose you. No one can write it like you can!



See above. Make sure your transitions between scenes show the setting change, passage of time or whatever is being transitioned. But beware using the same language over and over again.

Bland language
Draft one was all about just getting the story down on paper. Revision is the chance to really spice up your prose. I’m not saying to use a thesaurus on every word in your novel. But using “vermilion” instead of “red” creates a much stronger picture.

Are you character’s eyes blue or green? Was she born in 1978 or 1980? Your character may evolve throughout the story, but unless they run into a vampire or supernatural spider, I doubt their physical description will change. Make a decision and ensure the details are the same throughout the manuscript.

So that concludes my series on R&R requests! Now comes the really nerve-wracking part. Hitting send and waiting for news!

Good luck to you all, and trust in the fact that – good news or bad – you have poured your heart and soul into making your book the best it can be!


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