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.

Mini Lesson: Your welcome or You’re welcome

Mini Lesson:

Your Welcome or is it You’re Welcome?

By Janice Seagraves



I’ve been having some guest spots on my blog and website, and when I’m thanked by someone in an email, I write back to them ‘your welcome’. Then I realized that didn’t look right.

Is it your welcome

Or You’re welcome.

The easiest test is to say it out loud; if you can put in you are in the sentence, then you’re is the right word to use.

You are welcome.

See how that fits.

So for future reference always write you’re welcome when someone thanks you.

Mini Lesson: Up

Mini Lesson: Up

By Janice Seagraves

Up like the word down is a direction, but do we really need it in our writing?

Let’s take a closer look:

Example: She stood up.

Do we really need up in this sentence? No, not really. If she stood, then up is a given.

Correct: She stood.

Example: Grandma told Brian to put up his toys. He placed his toy cars on top of the TV, which made grandma angry.

You can see here Brian got confused by what Grandma wanted when she told him “to put up his toys.” Most readers would probably understand what Grandma meant, but to avoid confusion another word choice might work better.

Correct: Grandma told Brian to put away his toys. He placed them in his toy chest.

Example: The cat climbed up the tree.

We can assume that if the cat was climbing, it would climb up, unless you indicate the direction.

Correct: The cat climbed the tree.

Example: She looked up at the tall man.

If the man is tall then we can assume that she was looking up at him, unless of course if she’s taller than the man.

Correct: She looked at the tall man.

Mini Lesson: Down

I haven’t done a lesson in a while, so let’s look at the word down.

Mini Lesson: Down

By Janice Seagraves


The word down is a direction, if used correctly it can indicate where things are headed. But I tend to find it creeping into my sentences and I bet I’m not the only one.

Example: Roger sat down on the chair.

Here we see down used to indicate that Roger is sitting, but in this sentence down is a given so we don’t really need it.

Correct: Roger sat on the chair.

Example: Roger walked down the street.

Again the word down is a given. He wouldn’t be floating along the street, now would he?

Correct: Roger walked along the street.

Example: Roger set his coffee cup down on the table.

Again down is a given.

Correct: Roger set his coffee cup on the table.

Example: Roger looked down at the small child.

A small child will be lower than a grown man (we hope) unless the child is up a tree.

Correct: Roger looked at the small child.

You’ll find deleting down in your writing will lower your word count, which is always a good thing.

When is it okay to use down? You can use down to indicate a direction.

Example: The cat climbed down the tree.

Example: The leaf floated down.

Example: The bird fluttered down onto the lawn.


Mini Lesson: Words to use instead of Like

I haven’t posted one of these in a while and I just found an old note of mine about using Like.

Do you use Like too often when describing things?

by Janice Seagraves

If you’re like me you probably use Like too often than you like to admit when you describe things in your writing.  It’s important not to over use the same words of phrases in your writing.


Because using the same words or phrases can sound like lazy writing, and we don’t want our writing to sound lazy. We want our writing to sound dynamic and active.

Example: He was round and puffy like a marshmallow.

Better: He was round and puffy and resembled a marshmallow.

Here are a few words that you can use instead of like:


As if

Seemed to sense

Akin to

Such as

Similar to



In the vein of

Mini Lesson: Past Tense Review

Mini Lesson: Past Tense Review

By Janice Seagraves

I figured it wouldn’t hurt to do some tenses review. Why do we need past tense? Because most books are written in past tense.

Anything with an –ed at the end is past tense, like Stopped is past tense of stop.

However, there are other words to look out for, that don’t follow that rule.

Led is past tense of lead.

Gone is past tense of go or going.

Sung is past tense of sing.

Hidden is the past tense of hide.

Caught is the past tense of catch

Bought is the past tense of buy

Came is the past tense of come

Crept is the past tense of creep

Dealt is the past tense of deal.

Fed is past tense of feed

Felt is the past tense of feel

Fitted is past tense of fit

Hung is past tense of Hang

Had is past tense of has

Had is also the past tense of Have

Heard is the past tense of hear

Found is past tense of Find

Held is past tense of Hold

Kept is past tense of Keep

Laid is past tense of lay

Lost is past tense of lose

Make is past tense of made

Mean is past tense of meant

Meet is past tense of met

There’s more of course, but I don’t want to overwhelm you.

Here are some more tenses to watch out for:

be   was   been

Bear   bore   born

Become   became    become

Bite   bit   bitten

Bend   bent   bent

Bleed   bled   bled

Burn   burned   burnt

Choose   chose   chosen

Dive   dove   dived

Draw   drew   drawn

Dream   dreamed   dreamt

Drink  drank   drunk

Drive   drove   driven

Fall   fell   fallen

Fly   flew   flown

Freeze   froze   frozen

Get   got   given

Know   knew   known

Leap   leapt   leaped

Learn   learned   learnt

Leave   left

Lie   lay   lain

Write   writing   written   wrote

Then, now and maybe later.

And I’ll end this with: future perfect verbs are formed by adding –ing to the verb.

Writer’s Hint: #1

When working on revisions on your manuscript, setup a file with the title of your ms and the words “deleted scenes.” Copy and paste the scenes you’re removing into this file for pain-free revisions.

Then reread your ms. If the chapter reads better without that scene, then leave it in the file.