Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Q Is For Quest

Jennifer’s on an editing quest…

So as a result of my writer’s conference, I’m polishing my manuscript to send to an editor and a few other people who requested it. I’ve already done a read through, and I spent the past week going through it and making copy edits.

When I edit, I have a routine that I go through, which works well for me.

First, I edit for plot, making sure I close up any holes I may have forgotten. Then I edit for pacing and conflict. And finally I edit for word choice.

One of the resources I use is from a fellow writer who is also a freelance editor. She ran a workshop a few years ago on editing and handed out a packet of material that she uses when editing. One page had a list of commonly overused words.

Now, some of the words make sense, like “that” or “very.” By getting rid of such words, or severely limiting them at least, we tighten our writing. We also make it crisper and more specific by choosing better vocabulary words—like “exhausted” instead of “very tired.”

But some of the words seem a little silly. For example, “shoulders.” I think the point of not overusing that word is to make sure you mention other body parts, rather than just one or two.

So I take the list with a grain of salt, as I do with most writing rules. Very few are hard and fast and can’t be adapted. However, one of my weaknesses is using “-ing” words too often. In fact, in a 70,000-word manuscript, I had almost 3,000 of them! Sure, they’re great as adjectives and they allow me to vary my sentence structure, but I’m pretty sure something I do 3,000 times is too much!

I am happy to say that after an exhaustive week, and after probably destroying my eyesight, I have edited that manuscript to the best of my abilities. I’m doing one last pass on the first three chapters and then I’m sending it out and crossing my fingers.


  1. One of the things I need to look for is repetitive use of words or situations. I recently had my characters drinking so much coffee in scenes, they could have drowned in it!
    Good luck on submitting your book

    1. Yeah, I've had similar things happen to me too. Thanks!

  2. Yes, best of luck! I hope the editor makes an offer.

  3. Good luck!
    P.S. I use a long 'ing' words too! :-)

  4. Fingers are crossed here for you, too, Jen.

    I think sometimes we do need to take 'rules' with a grain of salt and really make the writing our own.

    1. Absolutely. The key is figuring out which to listen to and which to break. Thanks.

    2. Rules are the tricky part, though I have to say I'm getting bolder. I think I had to learn the rules in order to have the confidence to break some.