Tips 5-10 of the 10 Tips Checklist for Self-Editing

Last post we listed four tips in our checklist for self-editing; they were: check for clarity; check for ‘telling’ and lackluster sentences; check on point of view; and watch for story consistency, conflict and flow.

Now we’re back with the remaining six tips to complete our 10 Tips Checklist for Self-Editing to help clear the path to getting published.

5. Use spell-check

Make sure you write with spell-check on or use your word processor’s spell-check when you’re finished with your manuscript. I like writing with it on.

Just be careful here because spell-check will catch misspelled words, but it won’t catch words that are spelled correctly, but are the wrong words in regard to meaning.

Example: He was to tired.
Correct: He was too tired.

Example: She used purple stationary.
Correct: She used purple stationery.

These type of words are called homonyms and spell-check will not catch them.

6. Use your Find function on your word processor

This is a great tool to check for “ly” words, “ing” words, weak verbs, and overused words such as “was.”

7. Watch for redundancy

Check the story for repeated phrasing and even paragraph beginnings.

8. Check for tight writing

In today’s market, tight writing is important—readers have a shorter attention span. So, get rid of unnecessary words and text.

Example: Joe had a really hard time lifting the very heavy and big trunk.
Alternative: Joe struggled to lift the huge trunk.

Also, watch for words such as “began” and “started.”

Example: He began to lift the trunk.
Alternative: He lifted the trunk.

9. Check for punctuation and grammar

There are a number of great books and even online articles that will help you learn proper punctuation and grammar. Do a Google search.

10. For children’s writers: Take illustrations into account

When writing a picture book you need to allow for illustrations. Picture books are a marriage between content and illustrations—a 50/50 deal. So, watch for text that an illustration can handle. With picture books your content doesn’t have describe every little detail—the illustrations will embellish the story.

Well, that's the 10 tips, but please know that self-editing is a tricky business; even knowing all the obstacles to watch out for, it's still tough. And, this 'tips' list is not complete. As I've mentioned before, it's almost impossible for a writer to catch all her own errors. We're much too close to our work. We know every nook and cranny of the story and that makes it difficult to read it in a fresh manner. Even if we think we're reading every word, our mind is way ahead of us, that's why it's advisable to look into hiring an editor. If you're strongly against the idea, think of the possible opportunity cost if you don't take that extra step.

If you missed Part One, click here:

Related Articles:

Writing for Children – Finding Story Ideas
Writing – Be Specific and Professional When Submitting Queries

Until next time,

Karen CIoffi Freelance Writer
For Individuals and Businesses


Anonymous said...

Thanks for tips 5 - 10 of the Ten Tips Checklist for Self-Editing. LOTS of very useful information.

Karen Cioffi said...

Hi, Suzanne, I'm so glad you found them useful. :)

Karen Cioffi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rena Jones said...

Thanks for the tips. I always find this stuff helpful.

Karen Cioffi said...

Hi, Rena,

Thank you for taking the time to comment! I always love it when writers find the information I provide helpful.

Donna McDine said...

Fantastic tips and reminders which I'm printing out for constant reference. Thanks!

Karen Cioffi said...

Hi, Donna,

Thanks for stopping by. Next week I'm posting a two part: The Final Stages of Self-Editing. It has some good tips.