Lock It Up!

Oh, I just looove Wedding Crashers. If you like Vince Vaughn and a hearty laugh as much as I do, this movie won’t disappoint. Not to mention other stars in the film such as Rachael McAdams, Owen Wilson and Christopher Walken. With a cast like that, it couldn’t go wrong.

But tall, hunky men with strong comedic sense are not what this post it about. (Sadly…*sigh*…they’re my favorite type.)

It’s about Locking Up Your Writing.

There’s some editing basics every writer should know before kick starting the query process. (I hate to use the word “basic” because I’ve been guilty of doing some of these, but that’s what they really are. They’re the building block of solid writing…)

First step after writing The End? Do a spell check.

Once you’ve finished using the computer’s checker (and after you’ve gone through yourself and edited until your eyes blur because, really, who relies only on Word to spell?) you should look for these commonly misused words and make sure you’ve used them right:

1. accept/except
2. affect/effect
3. alright/all right
4. altogether/all together
5. altar/alter
6. among/between
7. amount/number
8. bad/ill, good/well
9. blond/blonde
10. brunet/brunette
11. board/bored
12. complement/compliment
13. council/counsel
14. discussed/disgust
15. fewer/less
16. fiancé/fiancée
17. here/hear
18. idol/idle
19. lesson/lessen
20. lie/lay
21. lightning/lightening
22. loose/lose
23. message/massage
24. principal/principle
25. stationary/stationery
26. that/which
27. there/their/they’re
28. then/than
29. to/two/too
30. who/whom
31. who’s/whose
32. your/you’re

Then you should go through your document with a fine tooth comb and Search and Destroy “that’s”. Most of them are useless space fillers that expand your writing faster than Size 8 jeans after my birthday.

Next you should really take a look at -ly adverbs. There may be a tighter way to say what you mean.

EXAMPLE: Sarah leaned close and spoke softly.
BETTER: Sarah leaned close and whispered.

And finally (although you should be far from the editing finish line at this point), SHOW NOT TELL. Here’s some words to watch for that might indicate you’re telling what’s going on:


Instead of using “He saw a black cat dart across the street”, simply have the cat dart across the street. Put the reader in the action instead of on the outside watching it happen to the hero or heroine. See what I mean? You can use that example for all of the above. “She realized…” should be changed into exactly what she realized. “He heard” should be transferred into the sounds heard. Drop the tags and tighten things up.

Okay, I think that should be a good start, right? This week I’ll go over some other hurdles I’m constantly tripping over in my own writing and, hopefully, along the way help someone else too.

*As far as my own progress goes, I’m plotting the sequel to Enemy, Beloved currently titled Immortal, Beloved (though that will most likely change at some point). I’m looking forward to a plot session with my new critique partner (Hi A.J!) this week (if I can manage to get away sans kids for a few hours), and I’m setting my goals on typing Page 1, Chapter 1 by Monday of next week.

**Also, I’ve been given an awesome blog award over at Nocturnal Reading. Thanks Kaiti! She’s giving away tons of cool stuff once her follower count reaches 100, so if you haven’t gone over there yet to take a look you really should.

Now dive back into your WIP and Lock It Up!


4 thoughts on “Lock It Up!

  1. You should check out the AutoCrit Editing Wizard. It finds all the things you've mentioned and more :-)It's really helpful because not only will it identify all the things like 'that', 'was/were', etc, it also lets you know when you've got too many of them. I love it. It really speeds up my editing process.

  2. Kaiti–you're very welcome!Kay Tee–I.MUST.GOOGLE.AUTOCRIT.NOW.Thanks so much for bringing something like that to my attention…and to think–I thought Word had an awesome spellcheck. Hmmm

  3. What a great list! I use a similar method: I keep a Word doc on my desktop with a running list of all of my common mistakes & over-used words, then I use Word to "find" them in my finished manuscript. But nothing beats a sharp-eyed critique partner! 😉

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