Self-Editing? Look for These 5 Common Problems

Editing programs such as ProWritingAid will help you catch these problems. For most of them you can use your word processor‘s Find tool to search for the problems.

Problem 1: A character is going to do an action.

Examples:

He was going to make retribution.

Better: He would make retribution.

 

“I’m going to take Cindy to the concert.”

Better: I’ll take Cindy to the concert.

 

Problem 2: A Character has to do something.

Examples:

I had to make the trip for my sanity.

Better: I needed to make the trip for my sanity.

 

“I have to make sure you’re right.”

Better: “I need to make sure you’re right.”

image by PatternPictures

For the next three problems, most of the examples are good sentences. I give alternatives to reduce the number of occurrences of an overused word in a scene. Like the photo, overused words can crowd a scene.

 

 

Problem 3: Overuse of thought, think, believe in a scene’s inner thoughts and dialogue. These can pile up in a scene.

Ways to reduce overuse in a scene:

“I thought you knew Elle.”

Alternate: “You’ve never met Elle?”

 

“I think I should go with you for your safety.”

Alternate: “I should go with you for your safety.” (I think is unnecessary.)

 

He didn’t believe her.

Alternate: She hadn’t told him the truth.

 

Problem 4: Overuse of knew and know in a scene’s inner thoughts and dialogue. Like thought words, these can quickly sprinkle a scene. 

Ways to reduce overuse in a scene:

“I thought you knew Charlie.”

Alternate: “You’ve never met Charlie?”

 

“I know I’ll like your play.”

Alternate: “I’ll like your play.” (I know is unnecessary.)

 

He knew she’d betray him one day.

Alternate: He’d expected her betrayal.

 

Problem 5: Overuse of maybe in a scene’s inner thoughts and dialogue.

Ways to reduce overuse in a scene:

“Maybe she was the killer.”

Alternate: “The evidence pointed to her as the killer.”

 

“Maybe he could take her to dinner.”

Alternate: “He could take her to dinner.” (I maybe is unnecessary.)

 

Maybe she was right.

Alternate: Was she right? Possibly.

Fix these 5 common problems in a scene’s inner thoughts or dialogue. Click to tweet.

What is another common problem you’ve experienced

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Suddenly unemployed, Allie Masterson returns home to Cary, North Carolina where she caddies for her father on the PGA Seniors Tour. There, she encounters a man who possesses an alluring gift of reading the contours of the green. Fascinated with his uncanny ability, Allie is excited to meet the Green Whisperer—until she discovers that the easygoing caddy is actually Shoo Leonard, the boy who teased her relentlessly when they were kids. Despite Allie’s reservations, when Shoo is faced with having to overcome a hand injury, she agrees to use her sport science degree to become his trainer…and then she falls for him.

 Shoo Leonard is grateful to Allie for her singular determination to get him ready for the PGA tour, but he isn’t ready for anything more. Still raw from a broken engagement and focused on his career, he’s content to be her fist-bumping buddy…but then he falls for her.

What seems like a happily-ever-after on the horizon takes a turn when Allie decides she’s become a distraction to Shoo’s career. Is it time for her to step away or can The Putting Green Whisperer find the right words to make her stay?

Tips for Cleaning Up Your Manuscript for a Hired Editor

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I’m not talking about formatting. I’m talking about making your manuscript a pleasure for your editor to work on. There’s benefits for you too.

Benefits of Clean-as-Possible Manuscripts

  • Cleaning up grammar and smaller problems, allows your editor to concentrate on structure and story problems. Of course, this depends on the type of edit you purchase: Developmental, line, copy, proofreading or a combination.

 

  • image by OpenClipart-Vectors

    Your editor will spend less time on your manuscript. If she charges by the hour, that’s less editing costs for you. If she charges by word count, your tight manuscript will reduce editing costs. If she charges a flat fee based on a writing sample, a clean sample that represents your manuscript may reduce the fee.

 

  • If you learn from her past edits, she might be more likely to put you on her schedule again. As a critique partner to six members in a group, I wanted to help make other writer’s manuscripts shine, not plow through the same problems and mistakes over and over.

Tips to Clean Up Your Manuscript

  • Be aware of the problems and errors an editor (or critique partners) marked on your last manuscript. As you write and edit your current story, look for those problems. For example, my editor marked a lot of sentences as awkward on a past manuscript. I carried that warning in my back pocket as I wrote my next story. I may still have awkward sentences but a lot less.

 

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    Reduce using words whose meanings aren’t the right word for sentences. If you’re the least unsure of the meaning of a word you used, look it up. Use your editor’s dictionary version if possible.

 

 

  • Reduce overused words. Writers tend to overuse certain words in their manuscripts. Often they repeat different words for different manuscripts. For example, for one story while was my overused word. For another, nice was a favorite. If you use Scrivener, it has an easy-to-use tool to list every word in a manuscript and its frequency. Use such a tool or Find to manage overused words.

 

  • Read through your manuscript and then read it aloud or let your electronic reader read it to you. I do this scene by scene, catching typos, poor sentence-length patterns, and other problems. If you have Beta readers who’ll read the manuscript also, all the better.

Tips and reasons to clean up your manuscript for a hired editor. Click to tweet.

What other tasks do you recommend to clean up a manuscript for a hired editor?

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Suddenly unemployed, Allie Masterson returns home to Cary, North Carolina where she caddies for her father on the PGA Seniors Tour. There, she encounters a man who possesses an alluring gift of reading the contours of the green. Fascinated with his uncanny ability, Allie is excited to meet the Green Whisperer—until she discovers that the easygoing caddy is actually Shoo Leonard, the boy who teased her relentlessly when they were kids. Despite Allie’s reservations, when Shoo is faced with having to overcome a hand injury, she agrees to use her sport science degree to become his trainer…and then she falls for him.

 Shoo Leonard is grateful to Allie for her singular determination to get him ready for the PGA tour, but he isn’t ready for anything more. Still raw from a broken engagement and focused on his career, he’s content to be her fist-bumping buddy…but then he falls for her.

What seems like a happily-ever-after on the horizon takes a turn when Allie decides she’s become a distraction to Shoo’s career. Is it time for her to step away or can The Putting Green Whisperer find the right words to make her stay?

When Do Writers Believe They’ve Arrived as Authors?

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Many writers think they’re bona fide authors when they’ve published a book. Today, anyone can publish books through CreateSpace, or the like. Others think accumulating thousands of fans shows they’ve arrived. But what about authors who have smaller followings of loyal fans? For me, I think what makes an author is what makes an accountant, a teacher, a hairdresser, or a pastor.

Here are personal examples of what I mean.

Teacher

A young man in the school where I taught accepted a teaching position because he needed a job. He didn’t prepare lessons, which put him on probation, and he complained about the students. At the day’s closing bell, he left faster than his pupils, taking home nothing. He taught, but he wasn’t a teacher.

image by Mohamed_hassan

After gaining a BA in math, I taught junior high science and math for three years. I didn’t have a degree in education, but I spent hours preparing lessons, searching for creative ways to get math across to my students. When at first I wasn’t reaching students on a person-to-person level, I consulted the department head and learned what students needed and wanted. I applied what I learned and connected with my pupils.

I didn’t want to pursue teaching as a career, but it was important to me that those children left my class prepared for next year’s classes. I think I was a teacher. Now I enjoy teaching in Bible studies and workshops for writers.

Author

image by Thedigitalartist

I wrote five completed manuscripts before I received a contract. On the first, I gained an agent, but the book was rejected for “not standout writing.” I studied books on the craft, attended writing conferences and workshops, joined critique groups, and entered contests for the feedback. For the second through fourth manuscripts, the rejections got better, inviting me to submit other stories. A publisher contracted my fifth. For my sixth manuscript, my publisher thought it was a good story, but the protagonist was unlikeable and too much about her sport was distracting. I reworked it four times before I received a contract.

For my seventh book, I tried some techniques I thought readers would enjoy. A different publisher contracted the book quickly.

Arriving

Then last year, I was invited to be part of a Valentine’s Day e-book collection with four other authors. I’d have no editor to help make my book shine. So, I hired an editor. I may never recover the cost, but I couldn’t publish something substandard.

That’s when I realized I’d arrived as an author.

Although the collection earned #1 bestseller ribbon in two categories on Amazon, which was wonderful for me and the other authors, I discovered striving for excellence for readers is what makes me feel like I’ve arrived as an author.

This means I’ll continue to learn my craft, subject my stories to criticism, and work to promote my books so readers in my audience can find them.

Is a published book or lots of fans what makes a writer feel like they’ve arrived as an author, or is it something more? Click to tweet.

What has or will make you think you have arrived as an author?

COOKING UP KISSES – has earned an Amazon #1 bestseller ribbon in two categories!

Five scrumptious e-book romance novellas, all for $0.99 or free on KindleUnlimited. Here’s the link.  Here are the blurbs:

 

 

 

THE INVISIBLE WOMAN IN A RED DRESS BY ZOE M. McCARTHY

Candace Parks lives a passionless life in Richmond. The computer programmer returns to the empty family home in the Blue Ridge Mountains solely to evaluate her job, faith, and boyfriend. Her high school crush, Trigg Alderman, who barely remembers her, visits his Gram next door. Sorting her life out? How about nothing of the sort!

 

LOVE ON A DARE BY MARY MANNERS

Alana Mulvaney’s life is in a holding pattern. Consumed by day-to-day operations of the family business, Alana has no time for fun or romance. But a little fun and a whole lot of romance is just what Alana’s sisters have in mind when they learn childhood friend Donovan O’Reilly has returned to town.
Donovan O’Reilly has loved Alana Mulvaney since he moved in next door to her at the age of five. But he broke her heart when he was forced to leave town, and now that he’s returned home to Winding Ridge he has a second chance to prove himself. But is it too late to earn her trust…and her love…again?

HUMMINGBIRD KISSES BY DELIA LATHAM

Toni Littlebird believes that when she meets the man God created for her, she’ll know—and she’ll love him in that very moment.
But then Dax Hendrick roars into Hummingbird Hollow on a noisy, crippled Harley, stinking up the air and chasing away her beloved hummingbirds. One look into the intruder’s eyes and her heart sinks. He’s “The One.” She’d been right about knowing, but wrong about something far more important: She will never love this man!

HEARTS ON THE HARBOR BY ROBIN BAYNE

Cara Peyton is content with her life, her trendy Baltimore bookshop is perfect for her. But when her ex turns up to remodel the store, asking for a second chance, she’s torn and unsure about risking her heart again. Can he convince her to trust him, and God, before the job is finished?

 

 

HIS VALENTINE PROMISE BY DORA HIERS

Another Valentine’s Day and Quinn Randolph prefers to spend it with her sweet rescue lab. Who needs men and their broken promises? Especially Pierce Karson’s! Years ago, his desertion shattered her. Now he’s trying to steal the property she targeted to expand her florist shop! Pierce only wants to belong…and for Quinn to choose him. His Valentine Promise…