Friday, November 7, 2014

J.C. McKenzie Nov 7 friday friend

The Naughty Words List

Thank you Ana for hosting me on your blog today. I’m going to discuss my editing journey, or more specifically my inadequacies as a writer and how I’ve learned to find my weird writing quirks and fix them to make a tighter, cleaner version of my manuscripts.
A few years ago, powered by a win in a local flash fiction writing contest, I decided to enroll in a community course called “Edit your Manuscript.” I had an 80000 word post-apocalyptic fantasy manuscript I’d recently completed and was very proud of—it was my first.
How the course worked:
It didn’t.
But I’ll get to that in a bit.
Technically, a published author hosted a group of amateur writers as we critiqued our work around the table.
I didn’t like this group for many reasons: One, the hosting author stayed quiet most of the time and kept a lot of her knowledge to herself. She sat back and let the aspiring writers loose; two, the other writers had little or no more experience than me and had little skill in providing constructive criticism. They hacked the manuscripts apart, including mine, with little consideration for each other’s feelings; and three, my manuscript didn’t improve.
One time, during my “turn” the writers spent the entire time bickering about the difference of an n-dash and an m-dash. Another time, it was how to delete the extra space after a period, because now publishers only wanted one instead of two.
One writer sounded like a parrot when it came time to critique my work. She kept saying it needed to be “tightened up” and it was “too passive.” She was right, but no one, including her or the host, could tell me what that meant or give me any examples on how to fix it.
I left that group feeling very dejected and discouraged.
Then I found the RWA. My mother is also a writer and she’d recently discovered Vancouver Island had a local chapter, so I went with her to a meeting to scope it out. Everyone in that group was wonderful! They were supportive and helpful and even the multi-published veterans of the craft, like Lee McKenzie and Bonnie Edwards, were open and approachable.
We both joined the RWA—my mother first and me a bit later. One of the best things I got out of that first meeting, besides discovering what a warm, constructive writing group actually looked and felt like, was Bonnie Edward’s “Naughty Word List.”
She’d made a list for editing. At the end of writing a manuscript, she’d search for all the terms on the list and then, if possible, take them out or change them to make her writing stronger.
I’ve since constructed my own “Naughty Word List” of terms to search for and eliminate based on my own writing ticks. I’ve included it at the end of this post.

In a nutshell, my editing process, in order, includes:

1.   Write first draft. Try to keep characters in character and pace moving along. Usually block out scene ideas first as a pseudo outline.
2.   Return to any to insert details or scenes or information. (If I can’t think of something, or don’t know something, I put in the space to return to later and keep writing).
3.   Go to each opening scene and flesh out details. Ensure scene is set and the use of at least 2-3 of the senses.
4.   Check beginning and end of each scene/chapter. Ensure hooks in place.
5.   Spell check
6.   Naughty word list
7.   Full read through (this involves heavy editing, adding/deleting scenes and paragraphs)
8.   Critique partners
9.   Beta readers
10.       Spell check
11.       Naughty word list
12.       Submission.

My Naughty words list
Passive to Active
Review use
To get
To be
Be able to
To be able to

Towards = toward
Backwards = backward
Further =farther (mo)
Ok =okay
Alright =all right
Reign = rein (unless it refers to ruling)
Reigned =reined (ditto)

Was going to =would
Was going =went (mo)
Would be able to = could
Could verb(present) = verb (past) (e.g. could see = saw)

be --ing (e.g.. be wearing) = wear

was ing =
(e.g. was crying => cried)

Telling verbs (take out)

(can often take the I out)
(and remove if possible)


Mo = most often

 Book Specs:

Title: The Shucker’s Booktique
Series Name: Lobster Cove
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press                 
Editor: Lara Parker
Cover Artist: Debbie Taylor of DCA Graphics
Theme(s): Shapeshifters, supernatural
SubGenre(s): Paranormal/Urban Fantasy
Rating: Spicy (PG13)
Keywords: Shifter, Paranormal, Fae, Urban Fantasy

Page Count: 115
Word Count: 27346
Digital Price: 2.99
Digital ISBN 978-1-62830-659-0

After her fiancé dumps her and her beloved Aunt Jenny goes missing, Willa Eklund travels to Lobster Cove with a broken heart to search for Jenny while running her bookstore. When a mysterious man visits the Shucker's Booktique on a stormy night drenched in rain and covered in mud, Willa's heart melts under his stormy gaze. She wants Lon and the answers he may have, but he also has a secret. Can Willa trust him?

Lon Devlin is a Tempest, a water sprite who can only take a human form during stormy nights. He rides the waves, lives by the tides, and nothing can hold him down, not even a beautiful woman. When he visits his mortal friend, he discovers she's missing and her intriguing niece has taken her place. He wants Willa, but he also wants answers. What happened to Jenny?


Thump! Thump! Thump!
No! She gasped. It couldn’t be. The banging on the front door of the booktique had to be a figment of her imagination. She couldn’t will Lon into existence. Why would he come back? Especially if he was involved. Unless…cold ice prickled up her spine…unless he needed to eliminate her to take care of loose ends.
No. Crazy thoughts, Willa. He could’ve taken care of her the night before. No, her heart hammered against her chest for a different reason. But it didn’t matter. The knocking on the door wouldn’t, couldn’t be him.
Thump! Thump! Thump!
Could it? She clutched her hot mug in both hands and turned toward the doorway leading to the bookstore. From the kitchen in the back room, she had a clear view through the store to the front door, but not who stood on the other side.
“Willa!” Lon growled. “Wake up and let me in!”
Willa gasped and almost dropped her cup. The tea sloshed around and some spilled over her hands. It burned, but she didn’t move. She couldn’t breathe. Somehow the air got trapped inside her throat. Why was he here? What did he want?
Oh God, let it be me!


  1. Welcome to Heroines with Hearts! I love my local RWA chapter. Like yours, it's so supportive and I've learned so much. Thanks for providing that list--it's very helpful. And your book sounds wonderful!

  2. Hi J.C. Glad you found a supportive and constructive group to join.
    I think every writer has their own list of overused words and phrases. I know I have, and as soon as I manage to get rid of some, I find others creeping in in their place!

    1. Tell me about it! Now I've developed an over-fondness of semicolons. Wtf? Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  3. Hi JC,

    Welcome to HwH.

    Without the experience of my local RWA chapter and their fabulous critiques, I know I wouldn't be a published author. But I agree that not all critique groups are created equal.

    I love the Naughty Word List. Thanks for's a great guide. Your editing process is a lot like mine.

    1. Thanks Debra! I have a lot of positive things to say about the RWA group, not so much the other group!

  4. Thank you so much for hosting me. For some reason my comments didn't stick to this post. I blame trying to multitask and visit via my iphone! I really appreciate the exposure. :-)