Editor's Note: It is true you don't want to bog down the reader with overly long or straight-up run-on sentences. In that same vein, however, if you only write short, choppy sentences, your work will be boring and juvenile. Mix it up and keep the reader on her toes!
Editor's Note: I definitely agree about use on the Web. It is hard enough staring at a computer screen all day, and if you have to wade through a twenty-sentence paragraph, well, that just stinks!!! BUT you can't hold every type of writing to a three- or four-sentence rule. You just can't. Every work is unique, and what works for some may not work for you. It's best to let your creative juices flow and leave the "rules" for later... and usually for your editor!
3. Be careful on using “ing”
Editor's Note: I think this and the passive voice rule should be combined. It is true we don't want to use only passive voice or only verbs ending in -ing. However, sometimes they serve their purpose. Making your writing fresh and varied is what keeps your reader interested in what is going on. For fiction, we want things to feel as real as possible, and I don't know a person alive who always uses proper grammar in their everyday "real" life—not even an editor like me. ('Cause y'all know we all redneck here in Alabama! ;-)) So, yes, trim the passive voice and keep things active the majority of the time, but be sure there is an easy balance, dialogue is true to your characters, and mix things up a little!
4. Remove unnecessary words
Editor's Note: I don't have much to say about this other than there are a lot of unnecessary words in this rule. Ha-ha... One of the main things I do as an editor is trim the fat, so to speak. The beautiful, talented Cambria Hebert can tell you I have a serious issue with the word "that." But there are other words that (<--note this is NOT an unnecessary instance of "that" ;-)) are often overused, such as a, of, had... But sometimes you need to toss in those "unnecessary" words because they help clarify something or change up the wording so you aren't repeating yourself and/or boring your reader to death.
I go to the store every day. (Bo-ring!)
On a daily basis, you can find me at my local Publix, picking up ingredients for a fresh homemade meal for my boisterous family. (From this ONE sentence, we learn the author likes Publix, they eat and cook fresh food, and their family is boisterous. Wow!)
It's all in how you execute! (And I said I didn't have much to say...)
Editor's Note: I actually love the final sentence (which was edited by moi). Passive voice has it's time and place, but active voice is where it's at! ;-)
Editor's Note: I'll let you in on a little secret. I use spell check. Gasp! I don't, however, rely on spell check. After I have completed an edit, I will run the spelling and grammar check just in case I have missed something obvious. Microsoft Word is not that smart. It often makes suggestions that make absolutely NO sense whatsoever, and if you were to accept those proposed changes, you'd be left with one hella jacked-up manuscript. But there are times I haven't noticed there are double words or maybe "necessary" is misspelled (seriously, I think that is the hardest word for me to type correctly!). It still doesn't catch all the errors (and there isn't a manuscript on this planet that is 100% error free!), but it's at least one more layer of defense when used objectively and properly.
And it most definitely takes more than five seconds to do that ;-)...
In closing, I do want to apologize to Ms. Miller for picking apart her lovely article. I did so with only the best intentions. She honestly did have some good points, and as I said before, authors could absolutely benefit from keeping simple rules and suggestions like this in mind while they are writing or doing a read through before editing.
One of the hardest things I face whenever I manage to scrape out some precious writing time is trying to keep things straight and editing myself as I go along. Nothing kills creativity like an annoying set of do's and don't's hovering around. So, again, just let your creative juices flow and then send your rockin' manuscript over to me and I'll whip it into super-shiny shape for you. :-)