Editing

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.”

Leave a Comment

Learn the Lingo, Part 2

Did you know that a question mark and exclamation point together (like so?!) is called an interrobang?! Did you also know it’s probably not a good idea to use an interrobang in your article or book? Now you do. You’re welcome. Last week I tried to answer some of the …

Read More

Don’t Know Much About Editors

A literary agent is not an editor–or a publicist. That may seem obvious to some, since the words are all spelled quite differently. But I occasionally get a submission from an aspiring writer who wants me to act as one or the other. I have been an editor (of both …

Read More

What I Learned from Editors

I’ve been writing for publication since my teen years, when the world was young and the Garden of Eden’s discount fruit stand was still in business. As you might imagine, I’ve worked with more than a few editors over the years (and even been an editor myself). Though some writers …

Read More

When the Gloves Come Off

Fist Slams Table in Anger

The publishing experience is rarely done in isolation. This means working with other people. And if their performances or efforts do not meet your expectations, conflict can occur. Over the years I’ve seen more conflict than you can imagine–of all types and variety. But the majority of issues boil down …

Read More

12 Steps to Publication

It takes 12 strikes to achieve a perfect game in bowling. (See last Friday’s video.) It made me think there are 12 things that need to happen in the publication process. Each must knock down all the pins to achieve publishing success. With that simplistic idea in mind, I came …

Read More

Do You Need to Hire a Professional Editor?

Recently, a blog reader sent the following question: Tamela, as everyone knows, writing can be a desperately lonely pastime. The biggest thing I struggle with is direction or coaching. That is, “Have I developed a good story, concept, or theme? Or, am I seriously off the rails, a hopeless case?” …

Read More

Book of the Summer 2020

Since today is the first of June and for some marks the beginning of Summer, I want to recommend you read at least one craft book during these months. Write Better: A Lifelong Editor on Craft, Art, and Spirituality by Andrew T. Le Peau is that book! He worked for …

Read More

Is It Ready to Submit?

You’ve poured out your soul. You’ve written your heart out. You’ve struggled and sweated over how to say what you want to say. You’ve paced the floor, clicked your heels, and now you think maybe it’s ready to submit. But how do you know? Good question. “Good question” usually means …

Read More