5 Simple Editing Tips by @RiJanjks #RRBC


by Contributing Writer, Author, Jan Sikes

Jan Sikes

You’ve finished your manuscript and joyfully written ‘The End.’ Now that you are there, the tedious work of editing is next. I know. I hear you groaning, but it is the most important and necessary thing you can do to your story. Experts tell us to let our manuscript rest a week or two before we attempt to edit it.


I’m going to share with you FIVE simple tips that can make the process of editing a little less painful.

1. Download and open Grammarly:
There are other free apps out there besides Grammarly, such as Evernote that are programmed to find simple typos and grammatical errors fast. Does it catch all of them? Of course not. But, it’s a good start.

2. Do a search for Filter Words:
What are Filter Words? “Julie looked out the window and saw a small dog. She realized that the sight of it made her feel happy.” Examine every paragraph and cut these types of filtering words out of your writing. Consider instead: “A small dog appeared outside Julie’s window and she swelled with happiness.” Not the most eloquent revision, but still much better than the first version. An even better change would be to add a physical reaction that shows her emotional reaction. Cutting the majority of these types of filters out of your work will improve it dramatically.


If you don’t know what filter words are, you can’t avoid them.
Here is a partial list of filters and their close relatives. Some words could appear in multiple groups.

See: appear like, become aware of, detect, discern, distinguish, give the impression of, identify, look, look like, note, notice, observe, perceive, realize, recognize, reveal, seem, sense, sight, spot, watch

Smell: detect the smell of, diagnose, get a whiff of, scent, smell like, whiff

Hear: catch, eavesdrop, overhear, listen to, sound, sound like

Touch: feel, feel like

Taste: appreciate, delight in, enjoy, like, relish, savor, take pleasure in

Know: ascertain, assume, believe, bring to mind, decide, deem, discover, gather, get, glean, guess, infer, intuit, learn, posit, regard, remember, suspect, think, understand, wonder

Experience: be subjected to, face, go through, live through, suffer, take in, undergo
Be able to: be capable of, be equal to, be up to the task, can, could, have the ability to, have what it takes to

3. Stop Starting and Beginning:
“What do you mean?” you ask.
“She began to walk toward the bus stop.”
“He started to clean his gun while she looked for ammo.”
“She put her head in her hands and started to cry.”

Here are some suggested changes that make for stronger and more descriptive writing:
She sprinted, sauntered, ambled, or shuffled to the bus stop. It all depends on what is happening with the character and her attitude toward the bus stop. The next one would be better fixed with dialogue. He opened the cleaning kit on the table and reached for his gun. “Will you find the ammo while I clean the gun?” He asked.
‘Starting’ or ‘beginning’ is usually unnecessary. Find any use of the words ‘starting’ or ‘beginning’ in your story and eliminate them, unless the action being performed is delayed in starting, or interrupted somehow. For example, “Jimmy started loading the wagon, but Maria drove away before he could finish the job.”

4. Eliminate or Replace Repeated Words:
We all do this. We fall in a rut and tend to use the same words over-and-over-again to describe action, characters, and settings. One of our RRBC members, Nicholas Rossis, has written a book, Emotional Beats: How to Convert Your Writing into Palpable Feelings.
I cannot say enough good things about this book and how invaluable it is when it comes to finding new ways to say the same thing in a stronger and more descriptive way.

5. Read your Manuscript Out Loud:
This is an excellent technique to find echoes, redundancies, filter words, weak verbs, and stilted dialogue. Yes, your family might think you’ve truly lost it this time, but I promise this technique is highly effective.

Our eyes are trained to see words that aren’t there, gloss over misused words and even convert numbers into letters. And, our brain sees words differently on the computer screen than printed on paper. So, my bonus tip is to print out your manuscript and do a line-by-line edit.

**This is only a partial list of editing tips. Adverbs and Adjectives are biggies and I’ll do another post to focus on them.**

But, for now, here are five plus one tips to help with editing your magnificent manuscript!!

Happy Editing!


Check out Jan’s author page and books on Amazon!

(If you’d like to be considered for a Contributing Writer spot with RRBC, please contact us at RRBCInfo@gmail.com)


36 responses

  1. I fall into the trap of using “weasel words” too. I have a list, and I like to do a find in my manuscript during edits. The process takes time, but oh, my stories always read better after go weasel hunting. Thanks for sharing your awesome tips, Jan Sikes!


  2. Thank you. I am on my umpteenth edit of my new book and your post still gave me something new to look for. In this case “beginning” or “starting,” one of my bad habits.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know the feeling, Mary. I truly hope my post helps.


  3. These are great tips, Jan. Thanks for sharing them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Karen. It was my pleasure.


  4. Hi Jan! Thank you for the great tips.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Those are all awesome tips, Jan! Many thanks for sharing with us 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My pleasure, Nicholas.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. These are some brilliant tips. I will begin my first edit very soon and will definitely be referencing this post. Thank you x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wonderful! Glad to be of help.


  7. Great advice, Jan! Reading it out loud helps a lot:)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it does. Thanks, D.L.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Great tips. I’m editing. Thanks for the reminders.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Editing is tedious and not our favorite thing to do. I’m happy these reminders help.


  9. Thanks for some great tips, Jan! I read aloud to my daughter (Captive audience) and she doesn’t hold back on her view of the work I write. Thanks for sharing these wise words.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. How awesome, Sooz! That’s a great support system.


  10. Thank you, Jan for the tips. Every writing tip makes for better writing. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Joy. I agree with you.


  11. Shirley Harris-Slaughter | Reply

    Thanks for the great tips Jan. We can never know too much.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Shirley. I agree. We can NEVER know too much!


    1. You are most welcome, Michelle!


  12. Thanks, Jan! 🙂 Sharing…

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Great post, Jan. I just finished my latest ms and have been submerged in editing for the last week. I’m enjoying a short break while my editor reviews it, then it will be back at it again this weekend. Reading out loud is one of the elements I find most helpful. I also work with a critique partner during the writing process and that’s a huge help too.

    Thanks for sharing your informative tips. And I’ve also got to plug Nicholas Rossis’ book, too. I have a paperback copy and love it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Mae, for plugging Nicholas Rossis’ book with me. 🙂 It’s a great resource. How awesome to have a critique partner. That is invaluable.


    1. Thanks for the Re-Blog, Christian!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Jan has some excellent advice here. Kudos!


    On Mon, Sep 25, 2017 at 11:34 PM, Rave Reviews By Nonnie Jules wrote:

    > reviewsbynonnie posted: “5 SIMPLE EDITING TIPS by Contributing Writer, Jan > Sikes You’ve finished your manuscript and joyfully written ‘The End.’ Now > that you are there, the tedious work of editing is next. I know. I hear you > groaning, but it is the most important and ” >

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Ron. I’m glad you enjoyed the post.


  15. Thanks for allowing me to post on the RRBC Blog site!


  16. ‘Starting’ and ‘beginning’ — I have to watch for that all the time. Thanks for a great post, Jan!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Laura. I’m glad you found some helpful tidbit in the post.


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