Editing Check List
Editing Checklist by Janet Greger
Thanks Marilyn for hosting me today. Perhaps writing on this topic for your blog is a bit presumptuous. You’ve written so many mysteries, but I finished the first draft this week of my next book Malignancy this week. Now what?
Checklist of things to do
Remove common flaws. Most of us make some errors repeatedly when we write. Unfortunately, many of us don’t even notice them when we proofread our manuscripts. I use some words too much: that, just, very, some, and since. I misspell “from” about one-quarter of the time. I sprinkle in hyphens too liberally.
I use my edit option for “Find” and do a search and change mission first. I’m not being logical to do this first, but it allows me to focus on the flow when I do the next edit.
Check facts for accuracy one more time. When I visited Cuba last November, the tour guide bragged that Cuban researchers had recently patented a vaccine against lung cancer. I checked. She was right, so I built my next novel Malignancy around Sara’s assignment from the State Department to set up scientific exchanges between Cuba and the US while she tracks Xave, the “spook” who saved her in Bolivia in Ignore the Pain.
I not only check the facts, but surf the web and certain science journals to be sure nothing has changed. For example, two weeks ago, I read an article in Science announcing the US and Cuban governments were initiating scientific exchanges – exactly what Sara is doing in Malignancy.
Simplify. I tend to name characters when I first insert them in the novel. At the end of the novel, I find I didn’t use many of them all that much.
Again I use the edit option for “Find.” Any name, mentioned less than ten times, I try to eliminate completely or eliminate the character’s name. Now I’m a bit contrary on this point. Some authors reduce the number of named characters in their books so much, I know who the villain is after the first fifty pages because he or she is the only extraneous character named. In other words, I like a few “red herrings” in my books.
This is a good time to also check time sequences and rearrange when clues appear in a mystery or thriller.
Convert passive into active voice. As I write, I monitor the percentage of passive sentences in each chapter using the “Spelling and Grammar” function in Word’s toolbox. Generally, I immediately rewrite a chapter if this function indicates more than five percent of the sentences in the chapter are passive. Even so, passivity slips in, so I recheck the manuscript and try to activate passive sentences.
Look at manuscript in different ways. I find I catch many errors by reading the manuscript aloud, especially in dialog. My dog Bug thinks this is very strange.
After I think the manuscript looks pretty good, I print it out. I always find hundreds of points that I didn’t notice on the computer screen.
Now it’s your turn. What do you look for when editing your work? I bet your list will be better than mine.
Bio: J. L. Greger took early retirement from being a professor at the university of Wisconsin-Madison and has now had three medical thriller/mysteries published.
In the suspense novel Coming Flu, learn whether the Philippine flu or a drug kingpin caught in the quarantine is more deadly.
In the medical mystery Murder: A New Way to Lose Weight, discover whether an ambitious young “diet doctor” or old-timers with buried secrets is the killer.
In the thriller Ignore the Pain, feel the fear as an epidemiologist is chased from New Mexico to the silver mines of Potosí, Bolivia.
Amazon sell sites: Ignore the Pain http://amzn.com/1610091310
Coming Flu http://amzn.com/1610090985
Murder: A New Way to Lose Weight http://amzn.com/1610090624
Good tips, Janet.
The words I use to frequently are "really" and "all". Always do a word search for these plus that and just.
Thanks for visiting me today.