Tuesday, January 18, 2011


It always amazes me how involved the editing process is. How do you start? Do you first search for holes in the plot? Or, do you look for grammar and punctuation first?

I guess it is personal preference, but for me I alway start with the grammar and punctuation. Get the nasty stuff out of your ms first! You will be flabbergasted when you do that "ly" search and find hundreds of adverbs.

"There couldn't possible be that many!" You shriek.

Yes, there are. They sneak up on you in the middle of the night without you even aware. That is why this search is a MUST.

Next let's get rid of those pesky "Thats". It's always a jaw-dropping experience to find them littered all through your ms.

Recently I read in a post about the another one of these pests ... the "IT" factor. How do you avoid this one. I haven't a clue! I used the word "it"  so much it scared me. So watch out for those IT's, they aren't popular.

Now, how about those wordy sentences. I learned from my good friend Erica, from erica and christy, to ECONOMIZE! And I don't mean stretching a dollar. My first novel ended up at 125,000 words for a y/a fantasy. HA! It now reads at 68,000 ... talk about too much of  EVERYTHING. This was the editing job from hell and took me over a year.

Look ar your sentences.... Do they flow? Are they crisp and do they sing? This is what we want to accomplish.

And now for the last and very common overage .... drum roll please .... Ellipses and Em dashes. How many do you have? These lovely little creature excite us in our dialogue. They are so much fun to use, we can go nuts with them. DON'T! They should used like any accessory. LESS IS MORE!

AH! I just remembered another, the exclamation! Another one to look out for and us use with caution.

So if you are editing, watch out for all these danger zones. Rake through you ms with a fine took comb.

Tomorrow I'll have a few other dangerous words that plague our ms's.

I'm off to editing.  Have a great day everyone.


  1. Thanks for the tips! I usually look for punctuation/grammar first as well; I do it because it's fairly straightforward as opposed to the many problems plot can bring up. :P

    Good luck with your editing!

  2. Great tips. I still have to watch exclamation points, but I'm much better in the other areas.

  3. Great points, Michael. Alex, I have to hang my head in shame. When I first started writing short stories (back when dinosaurs roamed the earth), I used exclamation points whenever I wanted to indicate tension or danger. Ouch!!

    But a kind-hearted editor gently informed me that reading those sentences was LIKE BEING SHOUTED AT! I never did it again.

    Have a great day editing, Michael, Roland

  4. Good reminders, and as some wise person said, every word should earn its place in a sentence. If it isn't, then it must go.

  5. Great advice and good reminders. I'm off to editing too. ;)

  6. Good luck with your editing. Your comments are a great reminder.

    One thing I benefited from in NaNo was to be strict with myself and not edit as I write, which otherwise really slows me down, but that means there's even more to catch later. I'll be doing an edit of that novel soon.

  7. I have made all those mistakes. I'm horrible. This is a good reminder.

  8. Yup, I'm guilty of all those. Except exclamations. I use way too many "thats" "justs" and my dialogue is always too formal with the first draft.
    I go in and check for spelling, grammar, and trim up the dialogue first... then by that time I have an idea if there's any plot holes.

    Wow sounds like you did an amazing job editing your last project! Good for you!

  9. Great things to look for - thank you! How's your revising coming along?

  10. I go story first, grammar/etc... later. After all, if my story changes significantly then there will be all new mistakes.
    I did a 'find all' for the word 'quite' once. I had well over a hundred. Whoops.
    I am about to tackle Courtly Scandals again. It has sat dormant for a month now and it's time to look at it with fresh eyes and a pile of sticky notes from my beta readers.

  11. Thanks for the reminder Michael. I'm a great one for the exclamation point! And I've learned to watch my adverbs. I've read that you should leave grammar/punctuation til last but I think we should do what we want.

    A new Publication Party started today on my blog with author Clarissa Draper. If you can come by, it'd be great. I'm sure you'll love to read what Clarissa has to say.

    Denise :)

  12. I have to get the really OBVIOUS errors out first, or I have a hard time reading it, but I deal with the BIG issues first then, as I figure all those grammar, word things will have to be checked AGAIN after than anyway. I did a word cloud for each section in my excerpt last night--my MC uses 'though' too much. (and I spotted a couple other words I decided to use synonyms on part of the time). And I ADORE em-dashes and ellipses... *pouts*

  13. I'm a plot person first. I want to make sure the story flows and makes sense first. Then I go back and worry about the grammatical "stuff". Unless something sticks out at me. For my own editing, I reread constantly and make minor changes constantly. Sometimes I think that's why I get no new writing done. I'm constantly spending time on what I've previously written.