Some of these simple tips may be familiar to you, and some may not. They can make or break your ability to be considered a serious writer by an agent, editor, or publication.

See if you practice these tips consistently. If not, choose to begin to.

• Use spell-check but don’t rely on it completely. This feature won’t highlight the misuse of their, they’re, and there (as commonly miswritten as you’re and your).
• Go to the dictionary to make sure certain word choices are the right ones. It’s easy to misuse words because others do or think we know what a word means but don’t.
• Pay attention to underlined words or segments your document program provides when there’s a problem that needs to be addressed. (Note: Most everyone requires you submit what you’ve written as an MSWord document.)
• Learn how to punctuate or let Word guide you. Some writers believe punctuation isn’t needed and that exclamation points are to be used and used often!!!!!!!
• When you use the name of a real person or organization, check the spellings and the correct name of the organization.
• Don’t misquote quotes; look them up and include the person’s name.
• If you quote people word-for-word or paraphrase their comment(s), be sure to attribute the comment to the original writer.
• Read for consistencies (bald hero combs his hair).
• If writing a short story or novel, include enough steps that take a character from one action to the next . . . not every action, but enough to move characters from one activity to the next. Create a movie in readers’ minds.
• Aim not to leave questions unanswered or assume readers know as much as you do. Don’t allude or hint, explain.
• If you think of something you forgot to include, place it where it belongs rather than add it in parentheses wherever you are in the content.
• Avoid run-on sentences. Two sentences are better than one long one.
• Learn how to format dialogue.
• Make sure there is order or proper sequencing applied to the content.
• Separate manuscripts into chapters, or sections, if it’s nonfiction (novels always use chapters). Nonfiction needs each chapter or section to focus on a particular topic.
• It’s not okay for one paragraph to fill an entire page or more; and believe it or not, an entire manuscript.
• Place only one space between sentences. It used to be you hit the space bar twice, but that’s no longer the standard. Using one space also reduces the total number of pages which affects (lowers) printing costs.

Coaching questions for writers:
What is it that you intend to write?
When you read, do you pay attention to how it’s written?
What do you hope your readers will experience or get from your material?

One of the best ways to build skills is to read a book in your genre and pay attention to the technical side of how it’s written, as well as if it’s written as a good read.

Become intentional about your writing. And, decide to have fun while you learn and grow as a writer.

[Excerpted from “Write, Get Published, and Promote: An Easy e-Guide for New and Aspiring Writers.”]

Author's Bio: 

Joyce Shafer is a writer and empowerment coach. Buy Write, Get Published, and Promote at and contribute to global literacy or buy direct at a discount and get her gift, How to Have What You REALLY Want. Email her at