Things to Look Out for When Editing

On the back of the previous post, here are some things to watch out for when you are editing your own work. You don’t have to take out every adverb or cut just entirely from your manuscript. I don’t believe in blanket rules for writing, other than the grammatical ones, but they’re definitely things you should be aware of in your work. Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments.

Adverbs:

These are often a sign that you’re using the wrong verb and could pick something stronger. If your character is currently walking slowly, perhaps instead they could be dawdling, plodding, limping, trudging etc.

Imprecision:

Words like slightly, almost, seeming all detract from presenting a strong image by introducing imprecision. There are times when you want this, but mostly you should be firm in the image you are offering to the reader.

Too many adjectives:

Focus on the important thing in a sentence. If you enhance everything with adjectives, you end up losing the strength of all of them. If the black horse thunders down the wide road towards the towering castle in the middle of the dense forest, the reader can’t determine what the focus of the sentence is and it becomes harder to picture because there is too much at once.

Pronoun confusion:

If you have more than one character of a particular gender in a scene, make sure it is always clear which one you are referring to. Does she mean the succubus or the night-hag?

Superfluous words:

Little words like just, that, is, like don’t always add anything to a sentence. If you can cut them out without changing the meaning or emphasis of sentence, then it’s probably best to do so.

Sentence structure:

Do you find you are starting your sentences the same way (using I frequently when in first person perspective for example)? Are you sentences varied or do they all run to a similar length? Try reading your work out loud to catch these sorts of issues.

Repetition

It’s very easy in the first draft to find yourself using the same word twice or more in short succession. Again, reading out loud will help to make this more obvious.

Missing words:

It’s very easy miss out words in a sentence when you are writing quickly. Go back and check you haven’t missed any like that pesky to that slipped out of the previous sentence.

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