Monday, September 26, 2011

My Editing Checklist

As some of you will be out there polishing your New Voices entries (have just pressed send myself, gulp.) I thought I'd share my editing checklist. This is what I use to spruce up my writing and hopefully make it presentable. It can be a bit of a faff but I think it's worth it. Please add your own suggestions. What do you do to polish your writing?

  1. Check for clich├ęs and express using your own words.
  1. Check for overused or ‘telling not showing’ words using the ‘Find’ function in Word – some of my guilty culprits are: was, felt, just, that, actually, began to, started, he/she felt, though, observed.
  1. Reduce adverbs by simmering them gently on the hob…okay, sorry, couldn’t resist that one!
  1. Cut pairs of adjectives, less is more!
  1. Check for repetitions, choose the best and lose the rest!
  1. Look out for unnecessary exclamation marks! (er, see above ;-)
  1. Don’t show AND tell; we’re not at school anymore.
  1. Cut unnecessary repetition of tense – I’d, she’d…
  1. Look for repeated words and use thesaurus or imagination as required.
  1. Make characters take note of surroundings, create a sense of place.
  1. Use all the senses, layer in smells, sounds, colour, texture etc
  1. Listen to it out loud, if your computer has a text to speech function use it, it’s amazing what it helps you pick out (the eye always sees what it expects to), if not try reading it aloud yourself, does the dialogue sound natural?
  1. If anything bores you cut it. Face it, if you’re bored then your reader probably will be too.
  1. Let someone you trust read it to look for typos etc
  1. If you get to the stage where you’re thoroughly sick of it it’s probably time to submit the wretched thing :-)


    Jill said...

    This is so helpful! Thank you. I always "de-that" my manuscript. That's probably my favorite overused word. :- ) Lots of times it's in sentences and it doesn't need to be there.

    Sally Clements said...

    Great checklist, Lorraine!

    Lorraine said...

    Hi Jill, 'that' is my worst offender too, amazing how often it creeps in!
    Thanks Sally.

    Maya Blake said...

    I agree, great checklist! I'm a "still" and "just" girl myself. My trick is to give myself permission to clog every page with them knowing it helps the words flow but will come be weeded out later, lol.

    Lacey Devlin said...

    LOL I love number 15 :-)

    Madeline Ash said...

    Agreed. Especially with the last one! And I wish I had learned 13 a long time true :)

    Teresa Ashby said...

    Great checklist - I think reading out loud to yourself is a must. Any mistakes leap out at you! Good luck with your entry :-)

    Catherine Coles said...

    Wonderful list, Lorraine! I agree with Maya, I am a "just" girl, too. The amount of times I have to take that out of blog comments too as well as my wip. I don't know what it is with that word but clearly I'm addicted to it!!

    Lorraine said...

    Sometimes I replace 'just' with 'only' but somehow I suspect that's cheating ;-)
    P.S. Thank you Teresa for the NV good wishes, thankfully I'm in Corfu and so not stressing too much this year!