5 Worthy Tips for Effective Editing

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My definition of editing: read through a paragraph, re-write, read out loud, approve, move on, find self-editing source, reread paragraph, see a problem, re-write, approve, move on, and repeat.

I misjudge the time frame for editing my book, by quite a lot. Yet, I’ve learned that strong writing is required for progression, so it will turn out best for me later on.

Since my brain has run on words and their appropriate order for a while, I thought I would share some things I’ve learned.

1. Clean sentences move the story forward.

Most often people advise to shorten sentences. However, I find it more helpful to say clean your sentences. A clean straightforward sentence gives all the information while using strong independent stand-alone words. This can be achieved with both short and long sentences.

For example:

Jenny is so happy to be running down the street with the crisp warm sun beating down on her heard and all of the other runners keeping pace beside her.

The sentence gives pertinent information, but several words muddy the point. Trimming words moves the reader along faster and makes the point sooner.

I might change it to:

Jenny ran beside her competitors, a smile stretched her lips, her eyes squinted, head down, shielded from the warm determined sun.

It isn’t much shorter, but it gives the same information in a more concise manner that shows the action.

2. Reduce metaphors and similes

I read a book once that had so many metaphors and similes I wanted to trash it instead of finish it. After multiple metaphor riddled paragraphs, I figured the purpose could only be to up the word count, because they didn’t enhance the story.

Metaphors should be used to clarify unusual experiences most people can’t relate to, or to make something more specific.

3. Overused words

Here are a few such words: literally, pretty, interesting, beautiful, ridiculous, awesome, great, good, seriously, nice, like, and feel.

I’ve included every single one in my writing, which has tacked on time and effort in this editing phase. These words are useful placeholders, but they are vague words most readers pass over. Words that can mean something different to every person won’t express the character’s experience. However, they do make for more authentic dialog when used sparingly.

4. Telling words and phrases

Some include: start/began, knew, could see, the sound of, heard, felt, and realize.

It’s better to state the action instead of telling about the action.

For example:

Brook started to walk when she heard the sound of a car, and she realized it might hit her.

It’s more dramatic to cut the telling words.

A car’s engine roared. Brook sprinted toward the building. Her feet hit the curb, as a forceful wind passed behind her. The car tire’s squealed to a stop.

5. Redundancies

Most redundancies are common words and phrases, so they’re difficult to spot.

A short list includes: stand up, sit down, lay flat, jump up, turn over, end result, enter in, and repeat again.

Once we cut the redundancies, our sentences are cleaner and more efficient.

I hope my list has helped. I would love to read your comments and thoughts about your editing experiences.

Thanks for reading my blog!
A.G. Zalens


Winning Strategy to Beat Editing Blues

Once I chiseled the last paragraph of my novel into my document, I knew the time had come for editing. In my mind the route would be short; I’d already written the beast so the rest would be simple. Anyone who has passed through this processes just chuckled at my naiveté. My assumptions lead me astray.

With editing we lose the novel’s fat, in the same way we lose the fat of our bodies. It takes us years to add-on weight, so it’s not possible to lose it all in mere weeks.

I spent a year writing my novel, tacking on fat, loading it with junk, greasing the pages, gnawing at the bones, and slipping in the sugar. I shouldn’t have thought I could cut the excess in a short time. The re-write requires overcoming sacrifices, pangs, and unmet cravings.

Another mistake happened when I thought writing translated into a good story. I should have become proficient in editing before I began the novel. If the food we put in our mouths is healthy then the body won’t need to store excess fat. If I had written my novel with a healthy editing method I would’ve saved myself time.

One could argue such an approach would smother creativity, as only eating healthy foods would stifle the pleasure in food. However, eating healthy means including cheat days to load up on carbs, calories, and yummy bites; it’s the best way to increase metabolism to spur fat loss. Creative writing has to happen, of course, but instead of allowing excess to fester until the end, I think it best to clean up the work before moving on to the next scene.

When the writing is clean, the cellulite pops during the editing process. If I could spend my time searching for story holes instead of rewording unattractive sentences, the stress of editing would be diminished, the frustration reduced, and the headache relieved.

I’m still learning and trying to improve for projects I start in the future. I appreciate the lesson and I hope my analogy encourages other in their creative writing process.

What do you think about this strategy?

Thanks for reading my blog!
A.G. Zalens

10 Influential Authors Who Bounce Creative Energy


Jane Austen

I’m a woman, with Jane Austen on my list: cliché, yet I can’t help it. I love her writing style, plots, character POV, and love stories. It would be an injustice to overlook the exceptional way she transcends an unattractive personality into a lovable character. It’s remarkable and a true inspiration to my writing.

Thomas Aquinas 

While in college, required reading included philosophers,  the only books that retained my attention were those fiction novels on my bookshelf, displaying their beautiful covers, begging for reading, it was difficult to focus on ”required reading.” However, Aquinas entices me with his wisdom and writing approach, maybe because the challenge he presents is irresistible.

J.R.R. Tolkien

Every writer must envy his masterful creation of a new world and creature. I know I do. Whenever someone mentions The Lord of the Rings I begin creating a new world of my own. His novels demonstrate how every detail is important, since they are what draw the emotional connection to the story.

C.S. Lewis

The Dawn Treader was the first book review I ever wrote, way back in grade school. His books stacked on my father’s bookshelf throughout my entire young life. They are a staple and another beautiful way of designing a new world for those of us who wish for his abilities.

J.K. Rowling

I see a pattern in my list of inspiring authors who have successfully developed alternate worlds. Clearly, I’m motivated by those who have pushed the boundaries and wrote amazing stories I couldn’t put down.

Timothy Ferriss

I read The 4-Hour Work Week several years ago and it pushed me on my organization, planning, and productivity. He has a great philosophy for the hours we should work and making those hours count. I also respect his achievements and the way he’s grown his business and blog strategies.

James Patterson

Periodically I get stuck in a genre rut and I seek out something I would enjoy in other sections. This is how I discovered Alex Cross, one of Patterson’s main characters. The way he integrates several different POV, his chapter lengths, the pace, the suspense, the thrill, I love it all.

Markus Zusak 

The Book Thief I read the first chapter and thought, this is the writer I want to be. The way he turns words upside down, inside out, and squeezes new meanings out of them is something I would love to do. Plus, the way he to an angle from a perspective that could be controversial but instead becomes an intriguing story. Amazing.

Rick Riordan

Before reading Percy Jackson’s story, I was reluctant to read something so young, but after seeing the movie I gave it a chance. Though, it was hard to start, once I did I regretted waiting so long to do so. He crafts a fun, action packed, and lovable story around characters I want to know in life. He’s another one who can design an original and keep it relevant.

Julie Kagawa

What I admire about her is her ability to move a story along without out all the background weighing it down. She moves a story forward with ease and makes the reader antsy to keep flipping pages. I love the way her characters are attractive without too much explanation.

I hope you enjoyed my list! Who are your inspirational authors?

Thanks for reading my blog!
A.G. Zalens