Thursday, December 20, 2012

My Editing List

A few months ago I showed my "Editing Folder" to a couple members of my critique group. I'm not sure if they thought I was crazy or liked the idea - lol. Anyways, it's literally a manila folder I carry around when I edit/revise. If I have a chapter or pages that I must print out to look at I will toss them in. That, however, is not its main purpose.

I write all kinds of notes to myself on it. What to look for, delete, and so on. I thought I would share those notes with you today and link to where I found most of them. Unfortunately, I didn't write down where I got some of the information from, so I don't have all the links.

I do a search when I have finished editing each chapter. Sometimes I am able to delete a word and fix the issue in one simple step. Other times I must reword the entire sentence. Occasionally I find deleting a sentence here or there makes the piece better.

Courtesy of
Plot: (All from Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass) 
  • How could things get worse? 
  • When would be the worst moment for them to get worse? 
  • Public Stakes! 
  • Personal Stakes! 
  • Emotional danger
  • Choices (a) suffering & (b) sacrifice

Character: (From
  • "Could I develop this character more, to make him or her more complicated?"
  • "How could this secondary character to be causing problems for my main character?"
  • "If the character is already causing problems, could they be even worse?"

Delete These Words: (These are my overused, implied, or filler words I use often)

that, just, seem, like, really, feel, start, already, felt, very, still, up, down, over, but

  • Who is speaking? 
  • Do they sound convincing? 
  • Are they in character? 

Tension: (In each chapter)
  • Story tension? 
  • Romantic tension? 
  • Inner tension?
Words that can be axed!!! (Rachelle Gardner)

about, actually, almost, like, appears, approximately, basically, close to, even, eventually, exactly, finally, just, just then, kind of, nearly, practically, really, seems, simply, somehow, somewhat, sort of, suddenly, truly, utterly, were

Passive Voice: (The Other Side of the Story - Janice Hardy - If you don't follow her, I highly recommend doing so.)

was, saw, heard, felt, knew, watched, decided, noticed, realized, wondered, thought, looked, is, am, are, were, has, have, had, being, been

Telling words: (The Other Side of the Story - Janice Hardy)

time (unless important), to see, to hear, could tell, to watch, to decide, to notice, to realize, to wonder, to think, to look,

Your Turn -> Do you have an editing list?

Originally posted on 11/8/2012 on Adventures in Writer Land


  1. This is a great post! Plenty of tips to help with editing, something I loathe doing. New follower by the way from Heather's Book Chatter