Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Checklist for Editing

Tip of the Day: If you are in the final stages of your editing, check out this article from RT Book Reviews on tips for self-editing your work.

As a self-professed Lover of Lists, I make lists for everything: to do lists, lists of favorite recipes, lists of books I’ve read, lists of books I want to read…you get the picture.

So it’s only natural that in my editing process I started to create a checklist of items to go through when reviewing my manuscript. Because if I used the word “towards” 153 times in my last manuscript, chances are I used it excessively in my current work as well.

The article I linked to in the Tip of the Day above provides a great overview of large-ticket items to review when editing: make sure each scene has a goal, conflict, character motivation, your unique voice, etc. And then tightening your prose, check the obvious grammar and spelling issues, and that all your plot holes are fixed.

Those are all excellent things to have in a checklist, but sometimes there’s just things that you need to check personally. Those are the things that I like to build my list for editing around. Because if I don’t write it down, then I’m never going to remember them.

For example, I have to:

  • Check to make sure each of my characters have a unique voice, since I like to make them all sound just like the main character (because I usually think she’s so fun and has a great voice, that I think everyone should be just like her :)
  • Check my overuse of words: towards, but, so, in other words, etc.
  • Make sure my sentences make sense. In real life, my husband likes to tell me I speak my own language, which is true. I have much more fun making up my own sentences and words. Unfortunately, not everyone always understands them, so I have to make sure they are readable to the average person who doesn’t speak Emilyese.
  • Double check that my character’s growth makes sense, is believable, and happens in a logical fashion.
  • Make sure every page contains the word chocolate
And about a hundred other things that critique partners constantly tell me I need to work on. Having them all in one place to remember to do them, makes life much easier!

--Emily, Miss Querylicious

P.S. I’m totally kidding about bullet No. 5. I only wish I could do that to my manuscripts. Wouldn’t it make them so much more fun if you could? Mmmm…chocolate!


Ghost Girl said...

That sounds like a great list, Emily. When I sit down to revise/edit, I like to have a map of some kind...a mission, if you will. I definitely have certain habits that I need to watch out for, but I also have to give myself some lines of attack.

Thanks for sharing your list!

Janine said...

You'd probably love the AutoCrit Editing Wizard. It's great at finding problems like overused and repeated words.

DeenaML said...

Em, great link and YES on the list of personal overused words to check....

Lisa Schroeder said...

Brilliant - I love it. I should do the same.

"So" is a big one for me - I use it way too much.