>Editing. I know as writers we’re supposed to enjoy this part of the process – it’s where your writing comes to life and shine. Yeah, yeah. I know we ‘should’ love it, but really, who does (Stina, do not answer that).

Over at Novel Matters, the ladies are discussing editing and today I had an ‘aha’ moment. They just made editing easy for me. Thank you! THANK YOU!

Editing is NOT hard. Really it’s not. Not when I know what to look for and what to do. Below is some pointers to use when going through your edits – I’m printing this out and keeping beside me.

  • Cut superfluous words, phrases, sentences–things that get in the way of the story. Use a machete.
  • Replace words, phrases, sentences with the right words, phrases, sentences.
  • No cliches! And there are way more than you think.
  • Get rid of italics, even for internal dialogue in many cases. Get. Rid. Of. Them.
  • Look for repetitious words and make one of them leave. For good.
  • Passive voice should be gotten rid of.
  • Any word or phrase I trip over is likely a word or phrase my reader will trip over. And that’s a lawsuit waiting to happen.
  • Know the rules before you break the rules. Okay, that one’s just dumb. But you can look very bad if you break rules by accident. Break rules on purpose and you’ll come across like Jodi Picoult. Not that she breaks rules, but wouldn’t you like to be compared to her? Well now you can.
  • Eliminate adjectives and adverbs that modify nouns and verbs that aren’t doing their jobs–the adj’s and adv’s are merely crutches. Mark Twain said, “If you find an adjective, kill it!” And if they’re on crutches it should be a piece of cake. Really, though, I don’t want to get in trouble with the law or anything; just wanna write really good books.
  • Look for “ing” phrases that I all too often begin sentences with (i.e., following my list, I eliminate “ing” phrases because I don’t wannabe a wannabe).
  • “Eliminate dialogue tags where possible,” she said.
  • She tapped her red pen on her chin. “Replace with action tags.”
  • Get out my list of qualifiers and intensifiers, then Search and Destroy the following (think Hunt for Red October): a bit, a little, absolutely, actually, basically, completely, extremely, just, kind of, mostly, naturally, often, ordinarily, particularly, perfectly, pretty (as an adverb), probably, quite, rather, really, so, some, somehow, somewhat, too, totally, truly, usually, very (not an exhaustive list–it just feels like it).
  • When you come across an exclamation point, whack off the top. Make the writing strong enough to stand on the remaining dot.
  • Find and replace “have got” in any form. No exceptions!
  • Redline the redundant. The list in the Appendix of Write Tight is absolutely essential to this.

What do you think? Not too hard, right? Doable. Doesn’t produce any of those panic like symptoms I normally associate with edits. I can do this. What about you?