Before the era of computers, writers relied on close, multiple readings of their manuscripts to find sentence errors. Now with Microsoft Office, writers can find sentence errors in their manuscripts quickly. Yes, most people know that. They’ve used the Spell/Grammar Checker, but what most people don’t know is that the Search Tool in Microsoft Word is even more valuable. “How?” you ask. Try the following techniques.
Check the Point of View
Most writing should be written in first-person or third-person point of view.
First-person pronouns include the following:
- I, me, my, myself
- We, us, our, ourselves
Third-person pronouns include the following:
- He, him, his, himself
- She, her, hers, herself
- It, its, itself
- They, them, theirs, themselves
To check the point of view in your manuscripts, search for the second-person pronouns: you, your, yours, yourself.
- You, your, yours, yourself
Second-person pronouns are used incorrectly most often. In short stories, they can be used in dialogue when two characters are speaking. In other places, second-person pronouns speak directly to the reader, which is where inexperienced writers make errors. It’s best not to speak directly to the reader.
Once you’ve searched for you and your, replace them with the correct first- or third-person pronoun or a specific noun.
Check for Unnecessary Words
Unnecessary words clutter writing. Search for the following words and phrases:
- A lot
- All of a sudden
- I think that
- I believe that
- I feel that
- And then
Once you find them, delete them.
Check Your Verbs
Remember action verbs make your writing more vivid for readers to imagine what they are reading. Linking and helping verbs need to be used in limited amounts. Search for the linking and helping verbs and rewrite the sentences by using strong action verbs:
Check for Over-Used Words
As you develop your writing skills, you may find that you use some of the same words over and over again. Create your own list of words to avoid.