By Gregg McLachlan
1. Check the 5 Ws. What, where, when, who and why. You'll never forget to report a time, date or location again. (How many corrections have you written because you forgot to tell readers where an event is being held?)
2. Doublecheck names. It's really easy to spell it Johnson in one paragraph, and then Johnston several paragraphs later.
3. Eliminate as many commas as possible and replace with periods. You'll quickly tighten your writing and sentence lengths.
4. Eliminate as many lead-in-to-quote paragraphs as possible, to quicken pace. You don't always need to setup every quote with a lead-in paragraph that recites the name of the person and a brief outline of what they're about to say.
5. Have you included a 'What does this mean?' paragraph? Readers need it, so they quickly know why they should care about the story.
6. Doublecheck your lead. Does it still capture what your story is about or is your strongest hook buried in paragraph #16.
7. Be a reader and do a Snooze Test. Read the first three or four paragraphs. Have you given readers enough to want to continue?
8. Eliminate Background Bogdown. Too many consecutive paragraphs of background, all placed too high in your story, can cause a fatal delay in getting to the newest angle of the story. There's critical background and accessory background. Go with what's critical, and delay the rest for later in the story.
9. Eliminate as many of the following words as possible: the, and, that, they and said.
10. Eliminate weak quotes. If a quote isn't doing its job of colour, eliminate it or paraphrase it.