Self-editing Checklist

This is a list of things to check for before your work ever makes it to a crit group or crit partner.

  1. Your protagonist should come out of the story changed. Not necessarily for the better, but different.
  2. Get rid of dull verbs (got, look, see, walk, put) and passive “ing” verbs – Use “ran”, not “was running”
  3. Editing pro tip: Hips don’t arch. There’s no hinge, no pivot point. Hips are fixed. Backs arch. Hips don’t. If your hips arch you’re in pain.
  4. Words overused by novice writers: look, turn, start, begin, could, smile, feel, slowly, suddenly
  5. Find passive verbs/overused words. Use Find&Replace to find “ing” words or “ly” adverbs. Don’t replace, just bold & review.
  6. Reduce the instances of pronouns. He/She/It
  7. Try to avoid “as” because you tend to put the reaction to an event before it happens.
  8. Action comes first, then their reaction. They can’t react to things before they happen unless they’re psychic and you’d have to show the reader they’re psychic first.
  9. Reduce instances of: “the ____ of” phrases (prepositional phrases) i.e. the amount of, the existence of, the character of. Change to a strong noun/verb.
  10. Trim down “that” and “who” usages. Watch for do, have, is, make, provide, and serve. “Make decisions about” is changed to “decided on”. “The people who are concerned are” can be reduced to “the people are”.
  11. “Of” and “Of the” are fat. “Many of the countries” can be “many countries”. “Lay out the puzzle” becomes “Lay the puzzle”.
  12. It is…, It was…, or It will be…, followed by the subject, followed by who, that, or which. “It appeared that Makiros will” becomes “Makiros will”.
  13. Watch beginning a sentence with “there”. If it can be dropped, cut the fluff. “There are some demons that will” is cleaner as “Some demons will”.
  14. Weak Modifiers

Writing tips taken from:

About Carrie Fulk Vaughn

Carrie Fulk Vaughn (C.V. Madison) is a licensed massage therapist, author of LGBTQIA, Urban fantasy, horror & romance. Gamer geek full of Mountain Dew and schadenfreude pie. Twitter addict. Ball jointed doll collector.

Posted on February 27, 2013, in For Writers. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. This is really beneficial for me, anyway. Thank you so much for posting this! I’m in the process of editing my work that I am hoping to publish in April so this has given me a lot to think about and some constructive things to specifically look at! Much appreciated!

  2. deaubreydigest

    I am also a big fan of autocrit. It gives solid suggestions for edits. You can edit for free a few paragraphs at a time and then pay for more words. I’m considering a professional account so I can put in an entire novel.

    I’m glad you found this useful and I’m glad to find another Guy Gavriel Kay fan. I loved and hated Tigana. Kay does emotion like nobody else.

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