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Author: Subject: Editing Seriously
Literary Master


Posts: 2098
Registered: 10/19/2008
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Mood: No Mood

[*] posted on 12/30/2019 at 11:45 PM
Editing Seriously

Editing Tips
This may be helpful to print out and hang near your workspace for easy reference.
1. Format to industry standards (simple font, traditional spacing and margins, name/title/page number in the header of every page).
2. Read aloud for sentences that flow well and convincing dialogue.
3. Jump right in: Delete any “warm-up” paragraphs that stall the main action.
4. Scrap unnecessarily fancy words.
5. Delete repetitive language (i.e., she muttered softly, he shouted loudly).
6. Cut adverbs.
7. Swap weak verbs for strong ones.
8. Rearrange sentences that start with “it” or “that.”
9. Convert passive sentences to active sentences.
10. Be suspicious of sentences that start with participles or gerunds.
11. Reword sentences that ramble.
12. Cut long sentences in half.
13. Find and replace words that you overuse.
14. Streamline bulky stage directions.
15. Toss out unnecessary blocking—stage directions or descriptions of actions that could be quickly summarized.
16. Watch for “empty” character responses (i.e., she said nothing or he didn’t reply).
17. Check description for word choices that convey shifting moods so that the mood of each scene is unique.
18. Trim description to your very best lines or phrases—and delete the rest.
19. Delete your paragraph “topic sentences” that “explain” what is already being shown. For example: She was mad. Her face turned red and she crossed her arms.
20. Rewrite narrative clichés (though you may want to hang on to colloquialisms for characters’ words and thoughts).
21. Show, don’t tell.
22. Delete unnecessary attributions. There’s no need to write “he said” if we already know he’s talking.
23. Cut out anything but “said” (forget she sulked or he opined).
24. Scrutinize long passages when characters are left alone. Find a way to dramatize internal monologues.
25. Delete unnecessary character actions/musings that slow down or interrupt the pacing of natural dialogue.
26. Rename characters whose names starts with the same first letter or whose names sound too similar.
27. Kill your darlings. In other words, delete anything that sounds too “writerly” or fancy.


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