Friday, March 1, 2013

Author and Guest, Jessica R. Patch with Writing Tips for All!

Spring is just around the corner. Spring cleaning anyone? Well, I'd rather clean up my writing than my home, so that's why Jessica R. Patch is stopping by my blog today. She is a very special lady with a lot of valuable information on writing...the do's, the don'ts...the in's and outs. She will have your manuscript sparkling in no time!

Jessica, thank you for being on today!

Cleaning Out the Funk
by: Jessica R. Patch

Thank you, Hannah, for hosting me today!

When my house is clutter free and clean, a candle burning—the scent of apples and cinnamon lingering in the air—everything seems right. I can settle in on my couch and feel guilt-free for anything I want to do: read, watch a movie, take a nap etc…

Our manuscripts are much like our home. We spend a lot of time on them. We live through our characters. We smell what they smell, we live where they live. And we want our readers to do the same thing.

It’s important to de-clutter, dust, vacuum, and sweep away everything that doesn’t belong. We want our stories to be welcoming, inviting, and a place for readers to settle in—guilt-free—and enjoy the time they spend experiencing our “home” for however long it takes to read it cover to back.
Here are a few “cleaning” tips to help polish your manuscript:

The first thing I do when I clean my house is pick up the big things and put them where they go. Bags of chips and cereal boxes on the counter go in the pantry. Shoes, clothing, coats that the kids strung across the living room have to go!

1.      Remove and organize the big stuff first. Print your manuscript if you can. If not, maybe you have a Kindle. You can load it onto your Kindle or iPad (Kindle app needed) for free! Make the font bigger. (You can also zoom in and change the font for a fresh eye on your computer if the two above aren’t possible for you.) Read through just like you would someone else’s book and pull out plot slips, contradictions, discover plot holes and make notes. Does your character stay true to who they are? If not, de-clutter the manuscript. Do you realize you don’t need 4 POVs to tell the story? Delete! Cover the big stuff first.
I always dust before I vacuum.

2.      Dust away the –ly words and filler words. It’s important to make your writing tight. Powerful. Give your reader an experience not just a story to read. First do a search on “ly” and look at how many –ly words you have! Then see if you can find a powerful action verb to replace it. For example:
John softly crossed the room. He didn’t want to wake Annabeth.
We can turn this into something stronger by using a word that will help the reader experience the story better.
John tiptoed across the room. Annabeth still slept. (I also restructured the last sentence to go deeper in John’s POV—but that’s another post!) Tiptoed gives a better visual of what John is doing, doesn’t it?
Filler words are words that you don’t really need. Can you find the filler word in the sentence I just wrote? Yep, it’s “really.” If you can say a sentence and get your meaning across without words like: really, very, just, quite, etc…then delete the filler word.  

3.      Vacuum overused words and phrases.
Chances are you’ll get attached to certain words and phrases. I’m editing my latest manuscript and I’ve found that most of my characters want to shrug and turn the corner of their mouth up. Once you see a word or phrase two or three times, make a note. Then do a search of those words and phrases. Pull out the thesaurus, in print or online, and start looking for synonyms or have them do something else.
Your character might be a shrugger and he/she does it often. That’s fine. Just make sure not all your characters are shrugging, or biting their lip, or raising their brows. You get the picture.
There are a lot of things you can do to clean up your manuscript, but these are only a few. Happy cleaning! And if you need someone to partner with you to help you polish and shine your manuscript, see my critiquing & editing page at I’d love to work with you!

Jessica R. Patch writes inspirational contemporary romance with plenty of mystery and suspense. A passion to draw women into intimacy with God keeps her motivated, along with heaping cups of caffeine in the form of coffee. When she’s not hunched over her laptop or teaching the new & growing believer's class at her church, you can find her sneaking off to movies with her husband, embarrassing her daughter in unique ways, beating her son at board games and contemplating how to get rid of her irksome dog (she hasn’t attempted any of them…yet). She is represented by Rachel Kent of Books & Such Literary Agency.
Connect with Jessica at her website, facebook, and twitter @jessicarpatch!


  1. Great tips, Jessica! I tend to overuse the eyebrow gestures--I guess because I know people that have very expressive brows when they! Yeah, I need to go look for pet words and gestures. Thanks for the reminder. ;-) Nice to meet you, Hannah!

    1. Hi Gwendolyn! It's nice to meet you too! Thanks for stopping by my blog to see what Jessica had to say. She is spectacular and I love her insight!

    2. I overuse that one too. Probably I'm just jealous b/c I can't do it! ha!

  2. I love your tips! They need to make a vacuum for writers. LOL

    1. Oh man, me too! :) Thanks for coming by, Jennifer!