Thursday, September 10, 2009


I thought I'd do a couple of posts about things I've learned over the past year. Some of these will be thoughts I'm revisiting--others will be fresh, new and sparkly.

Because I spent the summer in full-on-edit-mode, I wanted to start there. Here is a basic editing checklist that works for me.

The Basic Editing Checklist
1 - page numbering and blank pages
2 - spelling and gramar errors
3 - avoid cliches like the plague (hahaha!)
4 - too many adverbs or adjectives (use SPARINGLY at most)
5 - tense consistency and subject/verb agreement
6 - find and replace your over-used words (really, just, some, that, then)
7 - weed out repetitions (including names that sound alike or change halfway through)
8 - look for POV breaks and page balances (balanced white space)
9 - take out any unnecessary (or over-creative) dialogue tags
10 - find someone to give you brutally honest feedback (several someones is better)

Four Self-Editing Tips
1 - Start with the basic editing checklist
2 - Have someone else read it (No, your Mom doesn't count)
3 - Always print off a hard copy and edit from there at least once
4 - Step back and work on something else for awhile then look at it with fresh eyes.

Do You Know Your Vices?

~ Figure out where you are weakest (characterization, plot, continuity, description balance, etc) and strengthen it.
~ Polish until it shines.
~ Trim the fat.- unnecessary characters, descriptions and loose ends- cut anything that doesn't advance the story, even if it's your favorite part!
~ Expand on what's left - dig deeper for all characters, make sure you understand them inside and out and bring them to life on the page.- add active, powerful scenes--pull the emotions out of your reader

What Now?
1 - Decide if you need to change hats again (writer hat, editor hat, re-writer hat)
2 - If needed, keep working -- make it even better!
3 - Time to celebrate and submit! Don't let your work sit on a shelf unless that was your only goal.


  1. I really think your number 4 in the self editing tips helps you deal with your vices. It was only after I stepped away from my book that I was able to get rid of a favorite scene and chapter.

  2. Lots of good tips. I'll have to come back to this when I'm ready to edit.

  3. This is excellent Jenn! I especially like the part about printing it off. I made a book for myself on Even better than 8.5 x 11 paper is seeing your own book in print--in book form!!

  4. Patti - I absolutely have to take a break from my project, to see it clearly.

    Jessie - Come back anytime ;)

    Angie & LW - Thanks :)

    Elana - Ooh... interesting. That sounds fun :)

  5. Great tips. I'm going to be delving back into editing for the next few weeks and all advice is SO helpful.

  6. It looks like a great editing checklist. Now if I could only get through the evil rough draft to make it to edits.

  7. Great tips! I used to think I could do all the editing in one go. Meaning, I could read my story through once and it would be good. But now I realize it helps to go through several times, focusing on different things each time. First content, then inconsistencies, repetition, ect. Do it in stages. This is a great list to help make the edit go more smoothly.

  8. This is a great set of lists. I have to look for many of the same things you do. One of my weaknesses is adverbs. How do those sneaky little modifiers always slip in?

  9. Very interesting post about Grammar!;-) very useful x

  10. Good points. An online resource that can help considerably is the

    Self Editing Blog