A Self-Editing Checklist

The “Your Questions Answered” Series


How about more tips on some of the pitfalls of writing? What are things to look for when you are self-editing?

Here is a short list:

  1. Grammar. Most people seem to have fallen asleep during the class on plural possessives, for example. Its and it’s can throw a reader.
  2. Weasel words: Look for terms that bog down your writing without adding impact. Those include just, really, and others.
  3. Adverbs: Except in dialogue, limit yourself to one per page at most.
  4. Passive voice: Unless there is an excellent reason to use passive voice, don’t. And especially don’t write a block of prose in passive voice.
  5. Cliched opening: Years ago, authors could get away with someone looking at the clouds out of an airplane window or studying their reflection in the mirror but not often today. Take us to where the story begins. Make us excited to read the rest of your book.
  6. Unsatisfying resolution: Don’t disappoint readers. They don’t want to waste several hours on a book without an ending that makes them sigh with relief, contentment, or both.
  7. Untrue to the genre: If you are writing in a genre, learn and follow the rules.

Your turn:

What did I miss?

For the entire series, click here: “Your Questions Answered.”

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