Editorial Notes | Prologue | Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12 | Chapter 13 | Chapter 14 | Chapter 15 | Chapter 16 | Chapter 17 | Chapter 18 | Chapter 19 | Chapter 20 | Chapter 21 | Chapter 22 | Epilogue | Unnecessary Words
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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 link (Unnecessary Words) 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. When making a noun possessive, the apostrophe falls before the 's', as in: 'John's glass' and 'Andrew's blood'. And when you are pluralizing a noun, there should be no apostrophe, as in: 'Countless soldiers fought and died in the war'.
ADJECTIVES: Be careful of using the same adjectives over and over again. Most times adjectives are not even necessary. When you do choose to use one, do so wisely. Use powerhouse words. Say: 'The doctor murmured.' instead of, 'The doctor said, softly.' And when a woman is speaking softly, instead use, 'the woman cooed.' However, do not use these all the time. They are like special seasonings to be used sparingly. 98% of the time a simple: he said / she said is exactly what the doctor ordered. Which brings me to the next section––
CLICHES: Please, don't EVER use a cliche in your narrative. If you have a character who likes to use stupid cliches all the time, that may be a character trait, and it could be amusing. However, no reader wants to have the author speak a cliche, ever!
CHARACTER NAMES: Please keep the names of your characters consistent. The names that you establish early in the book should be the same names you use throughout. For instance: do not switch between 'Andrew' and 'Andy' or 'Doctor Mantle' and 'Dr. Mantle'. Pick one, and stick with it.