Mini Lesson: Self-editing


Mini Lesson: Self-editing

By Janice Seagraves

I went through three edits last year, and every editor told me the same thing, don’t repeat yourself. 

So I’m passing this on to you. 

Make a list of your pet words. Look through your MS for words you use too often. They can be a word or how you describe something: he/she frowned, jerked up or jerked away, turned around, turned to look, looked over shoulder, and squeezed arm/hand. 

Don’t eliminate these words, but check to see if you’ve used them too often, and if you have, then substitute another word or phrase.

Also use more descriptive words. Simply left clicking on the mouse will bring up a list, find synonyms and then locate a word that suits the situation you’re describing. You can also use a thesaurus, or what I use, a Flip Dictionary.

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23 comments on “Mini Lesson: Self-editing

  1. 🙂 Excellent tip! We all have our pet words or actions we go to. A lot of time, especially for pantsters it is a result of writing fast to get the story down, but during the revision process these things can be addressed.

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  2. It’s funny but my editor notices this too about me. She sees when I use a word too many times in a paragraph. I use the thesaurus feature a lot when writing but it is a great tool when editing as well. 🙂

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  3. Hi, Janice. What is the flip dictionary? I use word counter. I put in up to 5,000 words and it counts all of them, narrowing down to the top 25, or 50. They I go back and revise. This really makes me use my noggin.

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  4. Thanks for the tip, Janice. I use a software program called autocrit, which generates actual reports for overused words, repetitive phrases, cliches and more. It’s an arduous task going through the whole manuscript with the reports but it forces me to see my weaknesses, use more vivid language and stronger verbs, and cleans up my manuscript before sending it off to editors. It saves them time and me money!

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