Skip to main content

5 Tips to Editing

This month I have been teaching a class on short stories as well as working on edits for two projects. While I thorough enjoy letting go with my writing and just letting it take me wherever the muse wants to go, editing is work. Hard work. When it comes to editing, I always find myself looking for easy answers and there really aren't any. There are so many different things to consider when editing so I went through to find a list of things that sometimes get forgotten, but are easy to do to begin the process or when you feel like editing is getting you down. Here are some quick tips to keep in mind as you begin the process or if you get stuck in the middle of the process:

1. Look for your "weak" words.  This might also be called your crutch words. We all have them -- things like


On your first editing pass, throw your crutch words into search or find and track them down. If you can do without them, then do it.

2. Look for filter words or phrases. This is something I had not thought about when I first started writing, but why use extra words or put more room between the reader and the characters.  Instead of saying She saw the man get into the car, simply say: The man got into the car. If we are in her head, seeing things from her viewpoint already, then just let her tell the readers what she sees.

3. Watch for padded words.  Just like filter words, these are words that aren't necessary.

Sit down
stand up
drop down
follow behind
rise up
dash quickly

If you sit, you are down, if you stand, you are up.  There are probably more words you can find to add to this list. They might even be crutch words for you. Look for them and get rid of them.

4. Check your opening and your ending.  You should re-read them over before you consider your editing completed, but it is also a good way to start the process.  Make certain that the idea you started with makes sense with how you are ending your story. Do you fulfill the promise of the beginning?  Is your character changed, but still believable?  Is there a scene you need to add or delete as a result of what you wrote at the beginning but now that the story is finishing you find you don't need that. Go back and get rid of it.

5.  Read your story aloud.  This is my favorite editing tip.  Maybe it's because I spent so many years in television newsrooms where so many of us were reading our stories aloud as we wrote them. If you write for TV news you want to know how it's going to sound when the words are read. You want to make certain they work together and the thought is not so complicated that the reader (or listener) will get lost in the middle.  Reading a story aloud can really help you see problem areas.  It can be an absolute must when writing dialogue. If you can't read the dialogue aloud, then I doubt people can speak it.

Most of all as you edit, don't let it get you down. The story is written and you have words on the page. Simply make certain they're the right words. (I was about to write Just make certain -- then I edited it out -- that is one of my crutch words)


Popular posts from this blog

5 Tips for Writing Romantic Suspense

My writing career started off as a romance writer but I soon got the urge to write suspense as well. As I explain to friends and readers, those bodies just started falling and they kept turning up in strange places to ruin my romances until I couldn't very well ignore them. I had to include them in my romance stories and have my hero and heroine not only fall in love but solve the crime too.

Why write romance and romantic suspense? The combination can be fun. Just when things get slow in the romance, I can always have the suspense ratchet up because someone is either in danger or gets killed.  The same is true in suspense. When the heroine thinks all she has to do is solve the crime, suddenly some guy enters the picture and she has to deal with all these strange romantic feelings.  The treachery by an author never relents!  We love to torture our heroes and heroines and test them every way we can.  Shove a problem in their way and then let them get out!  So what do you need t know…

5 Tips to Creating Characters

Let's focus on Characters!  I absolutely love to create new characters. Creating them from scratch can seem like a daunting prospect, but you don't need to do all the work. Look around! Use what you know and who you know. This is your chance as a writer to make that boyfriend with the small irritations into a perfect man ready for love. Or you can make that awful boss over into the total idiot you think she is and next she is the one who gets killed or fired. All you have to do is exaggerate some of those terrible faults or correct the bad ones. 

Okay, that sounds like such a delightful exercise, but there are other things to consider as you go about making up new characters.  You want them to be lifelike, but what could be easier than looking around you.  Here are five tips for creating characters.

1. Use what or who you know. This is where that boyfriend or boss comes in.  Look at the people around you and by taking their worst or best attributes you can begin to frame a rea…

5 Tips to Writing Dialogue

Recently I was talking to someone who wanted to try her hand at writing fiction, but she feared having to write dialogue. She said she could write passages of character description and location easily and she could even come up with ideas for scenes. But she feared having to make the characters speak.  As we continued to talk I began to show her how she could approach the problem.
“Think about what we’re doing,” I told her. “We’re sitting here.We’re drinking a glass of wine, and we’re talking.”
“But how would I do dialogue?” she asked. “How can I put words in other character’ mouths?”
I am repeating this conversation because that was my first lesson to her as I began to consider how to show her how to write dialogue.
11. Learn the proper punctuation and how dialogue is written in a passage. That is a good part of what was bothering her. She wasn’t certain of the formatting, and as I showed how it was done, that took away some of her misgivings.
2    2. Listen to other people’s conversation…