Clean it Up!

By Harriet E. Michael

These are words I’ve learned to dread when coming from an editor. Cleaning up a manuscript is no fun. At least it’s no pleasure cruise for me; I understand there are strange people in this world for whom these words sound like an order to have fun. These people are sometimes called editors and they are an alien breed to me. At the same time, I need them desperately and am glad they exist.

I recently released my debut novel, “The Whisper of the Palms” published by Olivia Kimbrell Press. When my editor first received my novel, he sent it back to me telling me to clean it up. pc-1207686_1280Thankfully, he gave me specific things to do to clean it up. Here are two of them, which may help any writer trying to present as clean a manuscript as possible to an editor, whether it be a large manuscript like a book or small, like an article.

 1)      Change passive verbs to active. My editor had me doing word searches for all being verbs: is, was, were, am, are, be, being, been. He asked me to change these to active wherever possible.

2)      Do not start sentences with what he called the FANBOYS: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so. Again, my editor had me doing word searches for these words and asked me to change it anytime I had started a sentence with any of them. (And this is my favorite vice! I love starting sentences with and or but. Ugh!)

 A couple of weeks later, I was practically cross-eyed from all the word searches but I had a cleaned-up manuscript!  

Click to tweet: Cleaning up a manuscript is no fun.

Three-word prompt: I’m editing because …

Add your 3 words to the three-word prompt to create a six-word short-short story! We’ll publicize our choice of the best one on Facebook and Twitter and other outlets. One all-around winner will be chosen at the end of April!

The Whisper of the Palmsa new release from our own Harriet E. Michael!

Africa beckoned but would Ali have to go alone?

Growing up in the foothills of North Carolina, Ali Blackwell dreamed of going places she had only seen in books and magazines. She lived in a small farmhouse that her farmer father had built with his own hands, and the prospects of ever leaving her little town of Union Mills appeared unlikely. Her family barely scraped by on the sale of produce grown by her dad and brothers and the supplemental income they earned working at the nearby textile mill.

Kyle Edmonds, a few years her elder, lived in a larger house in South Carolina. He possessed things Ali only dreamed of—extra clothes and shoes, a house with indoor plumbing and electricity, a family car, a bicycle and other toys, just to name some.

They could not have been more different.

However, both heard God’s still small voice calling them to foreign missions. How will their paths cross? What obstacles will they face? What will their future hold?


Born in Nigeria, West Africa, as the daughter of missionaries, Harriet E. Michael is a writer, gardener, wife of 38 years, mother, and grandmother.

She holds a BS in nursing from West Virginia University but has discovered her passion for writing. Since her first published article in 2010, she now has over a hundred and fifty published articles and devotions.

Harriet is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Louisville Christian Writers. She is the author of three books, “Glimpses of the Savior” published by TMP Publishing and “Prayer: It’s Not About You,” a finalist in the 2011 Women of Faith book contest, published by Pix-N-Pens Publishing Company, and her debut novel, “The Whisper of the Palms” published by Olivia Kimbrell Press.

Her stories, articles, and devotions have appeared in publications by Focus on the Family, Lifeway, Standard Publishing, David C. Cook Co., Bethany House, American Life League, Crosswalk.com, Christian Communicator, Judson Press, The Upper Room, Pentecostal Publishing House, Smyth and Helwys, and more.

She is also a Christian speaker who loves to talk to women’s groups about prayer or other topics or speak at writers’ conferences on free-lance writing, non-fiction writing, and devotional writing.

You can also follow her at www.harrietemichael.blogspot.com

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11 thoughts on “Clean it Up!

  1. Great writing advice. Your book sounds very interesting. I downloaded it. Born in Nigeria – wow. I went there on a mission trip several years ago. Such a simple people in midst of a very dangerous place.

    • Yeah, Nigeria is a dangerous place these days. 😔 In the early days of my childhood it was a beautiful, safe place. My childhood was the thing dreams are made of–playing barefoot beneath the tropical sun, chasing lizards, climbing trees, eating mangos & guavas straight from the trees in my yard. Well, ok, we weren’t supposed to be barefoot but more often than not, I was. ☺️

      The book actually takes the reader up to the point of going to Nigeria but is actually set in the US. I hope you enjoy it.

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