5 SIMPLE EDITING TIPS
by Contributing Writer, Author, 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.
AVOID FILTER WORDS
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!!
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)
Hello, and welcome to “WHO’S ON THE SHELF?” with yours truly, Nonnie Jules! Since we are a book club, you know we had to offer something that included a book shelf. A lot of interviews merely cover an author’s work or an individual’s career stories. Here on this “SHELF,” we get down and dirty and ask the questions no other interviewer dare ask. We ask the questions that you want to open up a book and find the answers to on your favorite authors and fellow book club members, but, no one has dared to cover them. WE get personal! Because when you sit on this “SHELF,” YOU are an open book! Even if I have to pry you open!
Today, we have a very special guest on the SHELF with us, member, CAROL MARRS-PHIPPS! Carol is our “SPOTLIGHT” Author for the month of August and we have been celebrating her all month long. This week, she gets to sit on the shelf with me!
NJ: Before we get started, how do you like the design and feel of my new shelf? We’ve made it more comfortable in 2017, in that we want all of our guests to feel at home…that’s if they’re coming from a nice and neat one, and we also wanted the lay out to be a bit safer….you know, we’ve had a few accidents up here on this shelf. So, comfy?
Carol: I must say it is wonderfully so, Nonnie, and it really does have a “homey” feel, though I’m much more used to standing in front of book shelves than actually being on one.
NJ: I like that, Carol! Good one! So, let’s start by confirming whether or not your author name is your birth name or a pen name.
Carol: My author name is a combination of my birth name and my married name.
NJ: Tell us where you were born? Do you still live there now? If not, what city and state are you calling home these days?
Carol: I was born in Trenton, Missouri, but currently I live in Illinois.
NJ: Married or single?
NJ: Any kids, Carol? If so, what kind?
Carol: Yes, I have two children and two step-children. They are all human…oh…I mean my two are girls, both grown now, and my step-children are a boy and girl, also grown, (and all flown).
NJ: If you’re not there already, when you’re old and cranky, which one will keep you at home to care for you themselves, and which one will immediately throw you into a nursing home and only visit you at Christmas?
Carol: Either of my daughters would definitely take care of me. My step-children would probably condemn me to a nursing home…and I’m not sure about the Christmas visit; probably not.
NJ: Well! That sounds like a book! Wicked Step-Mummy, maybe? LOL! Any pets? Girls or boys?
Carol: Yes, I have a green cheeked parrot, a cock-a-tiel, a raven, five cats and 3 kittens.
NJ: Oh my! That doesn’t exactly tell us if they’re boys or girls, but it does speak to the fact that you you should only have as many as you can comfortably send off to college. You can afford to send all these to college, right? Oh, wait a second! You’re talking about your non-human babies! Pardon me…I’m a bit sleepy today. Carol, what’s the food that’s so good to you, you go to bed dreaming about it, and you forego breakfast just to get to it?
NJ: Yea, I don’t like cheesecake. Mostly because I don’t think that cheese and cake go together, but, to each his own. What’s your favorite color?
NJ: Your favorite sport…
NJ: How about your favorite TV Show…
Carol: I don’t watch TV
Now, Carol, I find something mildly disturbing about folks who don’t watch TV or eat Honeycomb cereal. (Better keep my good eye on her). Favorite Actress/Actor…
Carol: I don’t really have one.
NJ: Carol, now this mild feeling is turning into an almost excruciating pain in my left eye! Let’s move along from this topic quickly. Do you like to exercise to stay fit OR do you not mind just letting it all go?
Carol: Definitely exercise.
NJ: Biggest pet peeve that makes you want to spit nails? (For the record, NJ does not condone violence, but she does believe in being honest so she admits that there are those times and there are those people, who do cause her to want to spit a few nails in the direction of their foreheads. Hey, just being honest. It’s the only way I roll).
NJ: They annoy me, too…mainly because I’m aware that they know nothing at all. So, are you neat or messy?
Carol: I admit, I am immensely comforted in my little corner of happy disarray. However, overall, I prefer my surroundings to be neat and tidy.
NJ: Great response…I was gathering up oars for that boat ride. Facebook or Twitter?
NJ: Me, too! Carol, we’ve come to realize that the internet is giving way to tons of budding friendships. Who would you say is the one person you’ve connected with the most…your internet BFF or buddy?
Carol: Theresa Snyder
NJ: Who do you favor most: Nonnie Jules or Wonder Woman? Be honest, now.
Carol: At the risk of people thinking me a ‘brown –noser”, I have to be honest here and say, Nonnie Jules. I mean, Wonder Woman is pretty amazing, sure, but what has she ever done for me? Nonnie Jules, on the other hand has introduced me to this fabulous book club and all its very many benefits, great books and amazing authors. Yeah…Nonnie Jules for sure…
NJ: Thank you, Carol! And who cares what these people think! I’m grateful for this amazing club just as much as you are, because without it, we’d never have come to know amazing members like you!
Now, we all know that Wonder Woman has her truth lasso and Nonnie has…well, just her truths, in the no-nonsense way she forces us to be honest and tell it like it is, whether it makes others uncomfortable or not. In your opinion, which one does a better job of making the world a better place? You can be honest here, too.
Carol: Wonder Woman is larger than life, and with her truth lasso she can make anyone “fess up”, but I’m not sure how much that really changes things in the end. Nonnie Jules has her standards and principles, and as she goes forth living them to the best of her ability and expecting no less from others, I believe she encourages and challenges them to do likewise, thus making a real and lasting difference in the world.
NJ: Carol, that’s the nicest thing anyone has said to me today! Thank you so much for your kind words. I’ll do my best not to disappoint by doing my best to live up to them.
After you read books, do you post reviews?
Carol: I admit, I don’t always, but I have been trying to improve on that and leave reviews, if only a few lines, more often than not.
NJ: What do you think readers should base their reviews on?
Carol: The quality of the story the author has written rather than concentrating on format irregularities and typos. However, there are, sadly, times that these things are so bad that it affects a person’s ability to read or enjoy the story, no matter how great the tale may be otherwise and one simply has no choice but to take the errors into account.
NJ: Carol, as much as I love and adore you, this is where we differ greatly. First, I won’t give any life to the issue of format irregularities as sometimes, this is easily lost when dealing with Amazon. That can be overlooked at times. But, if there are so many typos and other written errors in a read, it loses me…and it doesn’t take long to do so. A lack of typos and other errors are all part of good writing, and an abundance of so, sadly can cause a reader to be turned off to a story. Contrary to popular belief, quality is definitely lost in the face of typos and other errors. (I’m staying away from including grammatical errors in this, because I believe a writer can create his/her own lingo for his/her characters, and should not be expected to conform to someone else’s standard in doing so). If the grammatical errors are not intentional (you’ll know), then forget I said this.
OK, so let me get off my high-horse here and move on. Are you one of those who are afraid to be honest in their reviews lest the author gets upset with you, or is honesty your best policy, especially in reviews?
Carol: Well Nonnie, honesty is the best policy, of course, but if I read a book that I feel does not deserve at least 3 stars, I will not post the review unless the author requests I do so.
NJ: Read any poorly written books lately?
Carol: Sadly, yes, but I honestly think there are less of them out there now than there used to be. (Or perhaps, I’ve just been lucky lately?).
NJ: How many poorly written books have you read that you gave high marks to in your review, when you knew they were horrible? Be honest, I won’t ask you to name the books here.
Carol: I have written a lot of reviews over the years, and I can honestly say that there have been only two. To be fair, though, the stories themselves were both stellar. In both cases the books had serious formatting, grammar and spelling errors.
NJ: There are some INDIE authors who have come onto the scene and have given our literary playing field a new look. Can you name two INDIE authors who have done this in your eyes? And, how have they changed the field for us?
Carol: Nonnie Jules, who has taught us to simply tell it like it is, no sugar-coating allowed and Kathryn Treat who taught us to keep going, giving it our all, no matter the circumstances,right up to the end.
NJ: WOW! Both were powerful statements, and Carol, and I thank you for the both of us. Are you an author? Are you a good one? C’mon, we love honesty here.
Carol: Yes, I am an author and I believe a good one, though I have yet to reach a state of perfection, a goal which I forever strive to achieve.
NJ: A goal we should all strive for, Carol. How long have you been writing?
Carol: Since I was in 8th grade (and no, I will NOT put that into years for you…sorry). LOL
NJ: That’s OK. If you don’t ask me to, I won’t ask you to. Deal? OK, Carol, are you able to take constructive criticism of your written work?
Carol: Certainly, I welcome it.
NJ: Good for you, Carol! Now, name two books that you’ve written?
NJ: Which one do you think is the best?
NJ: Do you have a blog or website? I love GREAT blogs, so would you say that yours is written well enough for harsh critics like me to enjoy?
Carol: Yes, my blog/website is http://niarg.com. If you like to read a lot of fantasy excerpts, you might enjoy it.
NJ: Which online resource or organization has helped you as an author the most?
Carol: That’s the easiest question you’ve asked, Rave Reviews Book Club most definitely!
NJ: How were you helped by them?
Carol: RRBC has helped me get reviews, meet a great number of fantastic authors and make a lot of new online friends. The club has featured me as the #PUSHTUESDAY Winner of the Day and now as the Spotlight Author for the entire month of August, all of which has boosted my sales. Not to mention that Nonnie has gone out of her way to personally lend me a helping hand when I was in need of one. There are so many wonderful things going on in this book club and a myriad of amazing people involved that I can’t think of a better group on or off the web to become a part of.
NJ: Carol, we always go above and beyond for our (RRBC) family members who go above and beyond when they show support for the club. Since you’re sitting on the SHELF, you’re obviously a RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB member, so what do you think of the club?
Carol: It is the best book club available anywhere for indie authors. (For more detail, see previous answer).
NJ: Have you come across any other online entities like it?
NJ: Well, that means we must be doing something right! Would you recommend RRBC to your friends and family?
Carol: Absolutely, and I have.
NJ: WOW! Thanks, Carol! Nothing like those word-of-mouth referrals! What’s your most favorite program or place here within RRBC? (#PUSHTUESDAY, RAVE WAVES shows, Block Parties, Writers’ Conference & Book Expo, BOOKS OF THE MONTH discussions, “ON THE SHELF” interviews, etc.)
Carol: Hard choice, and I can’t quite decide between the RAVES WAVES shows and ON THE SHELF interviews, so I’m going to say it’s a tie.
NJ: Carol, this shelf is getting hard on my hiney, so we’re going to wrap this interview up. Any final words for our guests today?
Carol: Just that I’d like to thank everyone who has joined us here today and you, Nonnie, for inviting me. It has been grand fun!
NJ: Thank you so much for hanging out on THE SHELF with us today, Carol! You have definitely given us “great” interview and we’d love to have you come back again some time. Your responses to our questions were just phenomenal, and who doesn’t love being “stroked” from time to time?
I’m sure most of our listeners will be sorely disappointed that you didn’t get close to ‘accidentally’ falling off my shelf. Some of them live for those kind of shows.
(“Well, we never!”)
To my guests, please pick up a copy of one of Carol’s books or all of them.
Have you joined RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB yet? Well, here’s your chance! And, since Carol was on the “SHELF” today, tell them she sent you. Make it a great day, my friends…or not. The choice is all yours! We’ll see you next month, right here on the “SHELF” with another INTERESTING GUEST!!
You know, GOD has a way of making us take stock of our lives – even our time and how we are spending it. Just today, I thought to myself, “Just as soon as Mar gets back from her vacation, I need to take a little hiatus myself.” Well, just as soon as that thought entered my mind, it left…quickly.
How will the club manage without me? How will ALL the million and one things that I do every day, get done? Who’s going to make those hard and very important decisions that I have to make on a daily basis? If not me, who?
Then, I opened my phone (to my Twitter account) and there was this article that was meant just for me to see.
Please, read on…
‘IT’S LONELY AT THE TOP – OR, IT SHOULD BE’
Leaders need time for reflection and hard analytical work, just like everyone else.
Solitude has been instrumental to the effectiveness of leaders throughout history, but now, they (as with everyone else) are losing it with hardly any awareness of the fact. Before the Information Age – which one could call the Input Age – leaders naturally found solitude anytime they were physically alone, or walking from one place to another, or standing in a line.
Like a great wave that saturates everything in its path, hand-held devices deliver immeasurable quantities of information and entertainment, that now have virtually all of us instead staring down at our phones. Society did not make a considered choice to surrender the bulk of its time for reflection in favor of time spent reading tweets or texts.
Yet, with an awareness of what we have lost, each of us can choose to reclaim it. And leaders in particular – whose actions by definition affect not only themselves – have more than a choice. They have an obligation. A leader has a responsibility to seek out periods of solitude.
The assumption, unless the leader says otherwise, is that he is constantly accessible – if not in person, then electronically. But the task of changing that assumption requires only an act of will. A leader can designate a certain number of workdays each month as no-meeting days, as Endgame CEO, Nate Fick does. A leader can mark off 60 or 90 minutes each day for time to think. A leader can make it known that he does not text or check his email only intermittently or at certain points in the day. (One has to wonder what leaders who make a point of responding to email within minutes, are otherwise doing with their time.) A leader can declare weekends off-limits for work email, as Wendy Kopp did at Teach for America.
There is a price to be paid for changes like these. Email will go unanswered for hours rather than minutes, subordinates might have to wait 60 minutes to speak to the boss, and meetings might get pushed back a day.
So be it. Scheduling a leader’s time is a zero-sum game, and fundamentally a manager must decide whether reflection and hard analytical work are important enough to warrant perhaps a third of his time.
There is another price for changes like these, namely the usual social levy upon nonconformity. Left unexplained, these changes will lead others to say the leader is arrogant, aloof, unapproachable. But there is a reason to leave the reasons for solitude unexplained. The leader can simply make clear, in as much or as little detail as he sees fit, that doing the organization’s work requires time to think.
And he can bear out that explanation during the times when he is accessible – by providing subordinates with clear comments on their work rather than vague ones, thoughtful answers rather than platitudes, and otherwise performing like a leader who has thought through his guiding principles rather than made them up on the fly.
(This article taken from THE WALL STREET JOURNAL)
RRBC, if we are to continue to grow as we have in years past, I need time away. My job is a HUGE one here, and although I am not complaining, I’d like the time away to regroup so that I can do my job better (just as you all get time away to regroup)…and when I’m doing my job better, when I’m at the top of my game, we all benefit from that.
So, it won’t be today, maybe not even tomorrow, but sometime soon, I will be taking a much-needed rest or mini vacation. It will only be for a week, and, I’ll probably still work during that time, but at least I won’t feel so bad when I turn on my computer to write and ignore the hundreds of email that have popped into my email box within minutes of my waking.
I also hope that during my short time away, that all of my wonderful RRBC family members will continue to do what they would normally do when I’m present – supporting each other, lifting each other up, recruiting, engaging, welcoming, and don’t forget, leaving honest reviews…all in all, just playing nice, so that those standing in my stead won’t have so much to deal with in my absence.
I hope you all have enjoyed this “peace.” I sure did. 😉