Monday, 25 February 2013

Close Edits: What I Look Out For


I've just completed close edits on my WIP and thought I'd record here all the things I looked out for, most likely because a CP at some point has pointed out I do these a lot.

FYI I believe we all write differently and all rules are made to be broken, but I can't say looking out for these hasn't made my MS stronger. 

I look out for:

1. Redundant Words. Just so you know, well, the over use of them, just drives me insane. Well, I can't tell you just who puts them in there. But I know they have to go. (These usually come from my list of redundant words to cut.)

2. Repeated Words. Why use different words when I can use the same word in different places on the same page, differently? 

3. Awkward Constructions. Having looked over my manuscript I note that I use awkward constructions where, being the fast drafter that I am, I haven't thought to use that thing called a period which may have helped me make it punchier, having thought about it.

4. Punctuation errors, especially comma splices. I do love commas, I like to put them in, where they don't belong, instead of the period, bless its heart, so I have to change these.

5. Not using contractions. I did not understand why my critique partner pointed out the lack of contraction, but I could not help but notice how Jane Austen it made my character sound. Which would be fine, if I was writing historical, but I am not.

6. "It was" construction. It was a sad day when I counted up how many "It was's" I had used for it was a lot, so it was. I changed these to be a stronger verb, and/or was more specific than "it". And it was better.

7. Lack of all the senses. I looked over my manuscript, gazing at the screen and catching the eye of my boyfriend as I did. Even though in reality I smelled the dinner he was making and heard the TV on low and the tap of my fingers on the keyboard. 

8. Generic description. My computer has a screen, and some keys. Exciting, eh?

9. Over Explaining. Why succinctly explain something in one sentence when I can use two, or three? I do like to repeat myself. I mean it gets the word count up. It adds words to my MS. It makes it longer. I can be sure the reader got my point. In case they didn't understand me. They might need me to make the point again.

10. Too many Rhetorical Questions. Why use one rhetorical question when I can use two or three? Why not repeat what I mean with several sentences? Why not have my character wonder in the form of a question? Again.

11. Dialogue Tags. "What do you mean?" He grumbled. "I mean, looking out for OTT dialogue tags," I muttered. "Do you put in said instead?" He said. "Yes. Or better still none, or action." I hit publish on my post.

12. Passives.  I was running to my computer to be sure to type in number 12. I was sitting at my desk. I was typing too.

Thanks to Kate Larkindale, Allison (Geek Banter), Jessica Ward, and Raewyn Hewitt, who all pointed out several of the above as well as all my CPs who point out all my errors.

Do you do any of the above? Have any to add?

Like I say, this doesn't - by any stretch - mean I never use "it was" or "he muttered" or whatever. It doesn't mean I believe in set rules and advice.

I just look out for these while I line edit, and find it helps. So I thought I'd record them here.


  1. Great post Vikki. I'm always shocked on the read through at how many things need to change...and there I was thinking I was perfect!

  2. This is a great post, and hits a lot of my pet peeves that I find in my own writing. I'm going to come back and reread your list again to refresh my memory before I start another round of editing.

    I also look for "as" when it accidentally changes the meaning of a sentence. As I poured another cup of coffee, I typed in this comment. Obviously, I can't pour coffee and type at the same time. I find weird simultaneous actions all the time, and they bug me to no end.

    Oh, and verb tense shifts. I write in first person past, but I tend to want to describe people and things in the present tense. I'll happily contain all actions firmly in the past, but then whip out a paragraph or two of present tense description without even realizing it. It's become my number one biggest issue. :/

  3. I look for the same things, and cringe at the crutch words and phrases that pop up. I swear they're different for each ms.

  4. This is awesome. I'm going to bookmark this post for the next time I revise, because I'm so there with you on ALL of these things. I think I may have sunk a little lower in my chair reading these because they're all very familiar mistakes. Yikes. :)

  5. Much obliged for this informative and fun post!

  6. Oh yes guilty of all of the above at some point! Repeated words is one of my peeves, when I'm reading something and come across this it sticks out like a sore thumb for me! Great post.

  7. This is a really good post! I check obsessively for all of these things.

  8. That covers most of it, but you forgot the passive voice of passiveness test: By Zombies.

    If you can tag "by zombies" onto the end of a sentence, it's in the passive voice. Destroy at will.

    example: The key of doom was passed to the front of the group. (by zombies).

    passive? destroy.

    Not passive: I passed the key of doom to the front. (note how by zombies doesn't work unless the front is near some zombies).

    That's my favorite grammar advice.

    The dreaded double verbing is a close second (anything in past progressive, for example).

  9. Great post! I found myself nodding along with pretty much all of these. [g]

  10. Very well put, chortle chortle! And good luck with the editing, looks like you're covering all bases, there.

  11. Sitting comfortably, reading your post closely, I agree with everything you say, happily. My own foible, which I reveal here reluctantly, is to use adverbs recklessly.

  12. Raising hand! Guilty of many of these. I apparently love to use the word "even" a lot, I even use a lot of commas, and over explaining you say? Whatever do you mean, more details please? bahaha I have found many sentences saying the same crap several times over. Boo! Great list by the way, I'll have to use it as a guide during my next line edits :)

  13. lorraine - thank you and oh me too! So many things I pick up on, on that read through!

    Laura - thanks, glad it might be useful to you, I thought it might remind me next time too! And Ahh 'As', that's a really good one, I'll make note, thanks!

    Stina - yes, agreed different MS somehow have different crutch words. It's picking them out! I do have common ones to all, but some new ones do pop in too!

    Alex - thanks!

    Jaime - thank you, glad it might be useful!

    M. J. - thank you, glad it was fun as well as informative ;)

    Suzanne - thank you, and repeated words is def. a peeve of mine too!

    Gina - thank you!

    Rena- this is AWESOME. I have not heard of it before and I love it! Thank you. I will most definitely be doing the 'by zombies' test! :))

    Lara - thank you, glad you liked!

    Jaxbee - hee, thank you!

    Julia - heh, brilliant answer and the old adverbs are definitely another think to look out for! :)

    S.K. - even is a good one, heh! glad it was useful ;)

  14. Really, like, you know, Vikki, I have, like absolutely, you know, like, idea what, you mean. I don't make any of these, errors, whenever my manuscript is being typed by me. I was reading this and I was confused. "What is she talking about?" I mumbled, looking puzzled at the flat screen of my monitor, typing on the black keyboard, the white letters gleaming under my fingers as I struck each key with a sturdy thud. But of course, I smiled knowingly to my, like, you know, self... "I'm perfect!" ;)

    Seriously, though--great article, Vikki! :)

  15. Great list! I can use these tips for my own editing.

  16. Excellent list! I'm definitely adding this to my WIP file.

  17. Great list! I'm going to have to tape this one to my wall :)

  18. T. - thank you, glad it was useful!

    Jenn - glad it's helpful!

    Nicole - thanks ;)

  19. excellent list! i see some of my faults in there!!

  20. LOL, great list (and ven better that you can look back at writing errors with a healthy sense of humor). I am a TERRIBLE about using the word 'just' (it pops in my writing everywhere!) Have you tried using Wordle? It makes a graphic of the most commonly used words in your writing. That's how I caught my penchant for 'just' and a few other crutch words.

  21. Great list. I definitely have problems with a lot of those.

    Allison (Geek Banter)

  22. Allison - thank YOU for your tips in your crit!

    Nickie - ah JUST! That's a good one for cropping up a lot ;) I love wordle you are right it is SO helpful!

    Tara -thanks :)

  23. We all do it - and having sneak-peeked at your writing it's wonderful to know that a great story will still shine out. Gotta love editing... thanks for making me laugh even as I'm printing out your list and making lots of mental notes for my own MS!

  24. Raewyn - thank you for your fine tips!


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