Editing Tips and Red Flags in Writing

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m tired of reading reviews that use “poorly edited” as an umbrella term for, “This isn’t how I would have done it,” “I didn’t like your writing style,” “You have to much description, or not enough description,” “This doesn’t read like a traditionally published book,” “You repeat phrases too much,” “I hate your characters,” “I hate you,” “Awkward phrasing,” or other some such thing. Some of those things are editing problems. The rest is just flak.

For the sake of my sanity, I made a list of words that may place you on the poorly edited list. I’ve used more than my fair share of these words. I’m positive you can find them in this short introduction.

I suggestion using the find feature to remove these words from your manuscript. It might take some doing, but your writing and your readers will thank you for it. So here’s the list:

• and – but (both can indicate run on sentences)
• that (unnecessary in most sentences, but there are times that it is necessary. Also be on the look out when “that” really should be “who”)
• just
• very
• nearly almost
• really
• seem appear
• felt feel
• begin began
• would should could
• quite
• few
• rather
• thing
• stuff
• anyway
• because
•“-ly” adverb
•-ingly (use sparingly. They’re trip ups for readers and can lead to confusion)
• so
• even
• then
• down up (as in sit down, stand up can be redundant)
• only
• got get
•-ness (some of the words with –ness at the end can be stumbling blocks that cause confusion)
•-ize (again, not all words with –ize are bad, but try to minimize them (Sorry couldn’t help myself))
• it
•is – are – was – were
• to be – be – being – been
• am
• has – had – have
• there is – there are – there was – there were