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The following notes, along with the edits and notes found in each of the chapters listed above, are the professional opinions and suggestions of TopShelf editorial reviewers. The subsequent links (namely: Cliches, LY Adverbs, Passive Voice, etc...) are suggestions made by high-tech editing and proofing software. These suggestions are more subjective and therefore more flexible than the ones made by the TopShelf Editorial Team. It is our hope that between our professional recommendations and those made by automated software that you will have everything needed to perfect your manuscript.
SEEM (seems and seemed) is a word that does little more than rob all power and authority from the narration and your characters. Readers want to know how your characters feel––what they believe. The same goes for narrators; readers want to know that the person narrating the story knows (or at least thinks he knows) what he's talking about. Think of it this way; when you see a Doctor, do you want him to say, "The way we're going to cure you is by prescribing this tried and true drug and starting you on a daily regimen of diet and exercise"? (or) "It seems like a way that might help you could be to take this drug and exercise more."
THAT is a word which is grossly overused by so many writers, and we often don't realize how bad we're overusing it until it's pointed out to us. In most cases, whenever possible, remove 'that' from your writing. When not possible, try using a different word, such as 'who' or 'which'.
JUST, like "seem", is a word you abuse more than you may be aware. It makes for a weaker narrative. In nearly 100% of cases, DELETE IT!
PUNCTUATION: Punctuation marks in dialog always go within the quotes. Anytime there is a dialog tag (he said, she said, etc.) the dialog should always end with a comma. Exclamation marks and question marks should be used only if the dialog has no tag and even then exclamation marks should be employed sparingly.