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.

Ginger Software Program

Ginger Software Program for Self-editing 

By Janice Seagraves

I tried out Ginger. And here’s what I think.

It’s a big program and took a lot of space on my laptop and slowed it way down. Going online is a pain, so after I finish trying it out, then I’ll delete it off my hard drive.

It works online so staying online as you use the program is a must.

It’s fast. It checks over your prose one sentence at a time and shows the sentence at the top of your screen along with the sentence with the suggested changes just underneath. You have an option of skipping or accepting the changes.

It only checks your words, not your punctuation. But it will check for correct word usage, which is great.

However, I suggest you look closely at what words are being suggested before you click on accept. Some of the suggestions on names was laughable, especially since I’m currently working on a SF Romance series, so you know some of my names are going to be far from normal.

It also corrects your email and posts online.

Here’s what I think: for a free program, it’s an excellent tool for self-editing. Just make sure you have the room on your hard drive before you download it.

But, if you’re looking for a program to check for punctuation errors, then you’ll have to look somewhere else.

Editing your work

Normally, editors want your work to be as polished as you can make it, before they set eyes on it. 

That means: No typos. No grammar mistakes. Correct word usage. And they especially don’t want to see a first draft.

Then they find what you miss, but they can’t write the book for you. They just don’t have the time for that.

To get your work as polished as possible, I suggest a critique group, beta reader, or critique partner. 

Critique groups are great for finding: Grammar mistakes. Wrong word usage. And making suggestions on improving your work.

What they can’t do is see the bigger picture, because they get it one piece at a time. 

If you want someone to see the whole thing, then you need a beta reader or a critique partner. 

Beta readers: Read the entire MS and make suggest for the plot and such. They can also point out continuity errors. 

But they don’t fix grammar problems. 

Critique partners: You trade work. They will take a chapter of yours for a chapter of their’s to do a critique on. Some people prefer this approach to polishing their work.

For more help on what an editor does, check out these links:


There is no hard and fast rule to writing a book. However, you need to make your manuscript as professional as possible before you let an publisher see it. 

Another suggestion is to take classes online. There are even classes to help you work on your manuscript. 

Some free online classes:

Some of these you have to pay for: