Posts Tagged With: editing tips

Pro Editing Tip: Remove Filter Words

Today’s editing tip is courtesy of the glorious Nicholas C Rossis, who was kind enough to beta read Chasing Nonconformity. (Note: Yes, I’ve finally started revisions! Book should be out by summer’s end! Huzzah!)

In his excellent beta reading notes, he mentioned my overuse of “filter words”. These are, essentially, words that make the world seem as if it’s being filtered through the character’s eyes.

So, for example:

With filter: Gabby felt her heart shatter into 1,558,309 pieces.

Without filter: Gabby’s heart shattered into 1,558,309 pieces.

Another example:

With filter: Humphrey heard someone squawk violently.

Without filter: Someone squawked violently.

One more:

With filter: Olivia saw the duck transmogrify into a treble clef.

Without filter: The duck transmogrified into a treble clef.

Removing filter words will both tighten up your writing, as well as help to remove that extra layer of distance between you and the character. And removing distance is always a good thing. Not removing distance leads to separation anxiety, which leads to my roommate’s dog literally crashing through the screen door to reach her owner.

To learn more about filter words, the extraordinary Nicholas C Rossis recommends this article. Seeing as I’ve now described him as both “glorious” and “extraordinary”, I’m confident we can trust his good judgment.

To infinity and beyond!


Unrelated media of the day:

Random Harry Potter jokes, because my roommate has been marathoning the HP movies and it seems appropriate …



Reminder: Imminent Danger is free to download today (July 6, 2015) — grab it if you haven’t read it yet!

Categories: Writing | Tags: , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Editing Tip: 10 Ways to Get Past the First Chapter

We shall begin today’s lesson with a personal anecdote.

My current goal is to edit Chasing Nonconformity. This is going very poorly, because every time I sit down and open up the file, it begins on page 1 — also known as Chapter One. Now, logic dictates I would just skip ahead in the document to wherever I need to edit and go from there. But before I do that, I happen to notice a slight re-wording I can do on paragraph three. Okay, that’s better … oh, but I don’t like how Eris rolls her eyes in paragraph five. And I missed a comma in paragraph 7 … maybe I should keep reading …

Three hours later, Chapter One has completely changed for the zillionth time and I’m no closer to finishing the darn draft than when I started.

As I’m learning, the trick to editing a book is to get past the first chapter. Once you’ve broken through that barrier, sky’s the limit! No, I take that back. There is no limit. The first chapter is a pair of steel shackles and you are the Hulk, summoning up your anger, stoking the fires of your wrath, bigger and hotter and higher and flamier until BOOM! Free of the shackles, free of the first chapter, ready to show the rest of your story who’s boss. (relevant link)

Thus, I present to you …

10 Ways to Get Past the First Chapter

  1. Highlight Chapter 1, cut it, and paste it at the end of your document so it isn’t the first thing you see.
  2. Never turn off your computer or close your document file so you can always keep your place in the manuscript.
  3. Hire someone to slap you in the face with a lightly salted salmon fillet every time you try to edit Chapter 1.
  4. Change the font color of Chapter 1 to white text so you can’t see it.
  5. Search “Chapter 2” and don’t look at the screen until you know you’re in the right place.
  6. Hire someone to slap you in the face with a braised lamb shank every time you try to sneak back to edit Chapter 1 whilst pretending to edit the rest of the manuscript.
  7. Hire someone to scream directly in your ear every time Chapter 1 appears on-screen in order to mentally connect the first chapter with complete terror.
  8. Commit a crime and go to jail. Hard to edit Chapter 1 without a computer.
  9. Hire that guy from Inception to sneak into your mind and brainwash you into forgetting Chapter 1 exists.
  10. Summon up some basic willpower and just skip the first chapter.

As you can see, some are more practical than others. I myself will be starting with #3. I wanted to go with #6, but lamb is significantly more expensive than salmon and I am poor.

Thank you for sharing in my madness. For all those Canadians out there, Happy Thanksgiving!


Unrelated media of the day:

Categories: Writing | Tags: , , , , , | 35 Comments

Quick Editing Tip: An Easy and Effective Way to Proofread

As I mentioned in my previous post, iUniverse sent me the proofs for Imminent Danger last Thursday. As such, I have spent the entire weekend going through the proofs and making sure there aren’t any typos, odd formatting, random blank pages, etc.

I thought I’d share my proofreading method with you, since it worked out pretty well.

Step #1

Print out your book. Since this is your final proof before the book is printed, make sure you print it in its final format — e.g., two novel-sized pages printed on each 8.5×11 sheet.

The reasoning here, of course, is that if you just print out your book as a normal Word document, it doesn’t have the feel of a real book, plus you won’t be able to check that your novel formatting is correct.

Step #2

Get a red pen and a bunch of sticky notes.

Step #3 (this is the most important one)

Starting on the first page of your book, read backwards up each page, going paragraph by paragraph.

At the proof-reading stage, you’re no longer making big changes to the book. Everything is where it should be. Now you’re just looking for typos. And by reading the paragraphs backward, you’re removing yourself from the story and just concentrating on the text. I actually tried reading the entire book backwards, paragraph by paragraph, but flipping the pages was annoying so I started at the beginning instead.

Step #4

Whenever you find a typo, or just a small something you want to change, correct it with red pen and put a sticky note on that page. Then continue reading.

Step #5 

Once you’re done reading the entire book, go back and look at your suggested changes. You might not agree with some of them once you’ve had a chance to think them through. Remove the sticky note from discarded changes pages so you aren’t confused later on.

Step #6

Open up your manuscript file and make those changes! Do a quick scroll through of the document to make sure you didn’t mess up any formatting by adding/deleting things.

Voila! My foolproof proofreading method.

Unrelated image of the day:

Click here for more guinea pig hybrids:

Categories: Self Publishing, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 35 Comments

9 Things I Learned From My Copy-Edit

I finished going over my copy-edit this evening. All the changes are made, the manuscript has been sent back to iUniverse so they can do God knows what with it (hopefully publish it, lol), and I officially have nothing more to do with the book until they send me cover proofs and final print proofs. Woo! Talk about a weight off your chest. Now I can focus on other things, like my job, and not living in a forest of cardboard boxes.

But you don’t care about that. You came here for the list!

9 Things I Learned From My Copy-Edit

1. The first paragraph at the start of a chapter is not indented. The same goes for the first paragraph after a scene break.

2. According to American publishing standard, when indicating possession, this — Chris’ — is not correct. This — Chris’s — is correct.

3. A list of adjectives do not require as many commas as you might think. This — fluffy, white hair — is not correct. This — fluffy white hair — is correct.

4. Once you’ve defined a foreign word in italics, you don’t have to italicize it any more. I’m given to understand that you can still italicize it if you want to, but it’s not necessary.

5. Instead of using italics to put emphasis on a certain word, try to let the sentence structure emphasize for you.

6. Ship names are italicized, but a class/type of ship is not italicized. E.g. The Enterprise v.s. Boeing 747.

7. The following dialogue tags — “she panicked”, “she laughed”, “she sighed”, “she smiled” — are not actually dialogue tags. They are verbs that should not be applied to dialogue.

8. Percentage should be written as XX percent — e.g., 97 percent.

9. The correct phrasing is “Far be it from me to say”, not “Far be it for me to say”.

Also, having finished reviewing the copy-edit, I can now officially pass judgement on my copy-editor. Ready?

Was the copy-edit worth $1900?

No. I definitely did not get $1900 worth of editing done to that manuscript. Not by a long shot. On the plus side, I did learn several things (see the above list), so it certainly wasn’t a complete waste of money.

How was the quality of the copy-editor?

He seemed fairly competent. I caught five mistakes overall — four typos, and one word that was randomly bolded. He had a weird obsession with semicolons that I didn’t agree with, and he also seemed to have a vendetta against commas, so I had to add a handful back in. He also failed to notice that some of the chapter titles were misaligned. To be fair, I didn’t notice that either, but still!

Overall judgement?

Not worth the money, but I did learn many new things, so we’ll call it a draw and move on.


Unrelated media of the day:

Categories: iUniverse, Self Publishing, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 68 Comments

American vs. Canadian Grammar + Update on Imminent Danger!

We’ll start with the update, since that’s what I’m currently the most excited about. Approximately forty-seven seconds ago, I sent the newly-shortened, vastly-improved manuscript for Imminent Danger and How to Fly Straight into It off to my iUniverse editorial consultant. She will send it on to the Return Evaluator, who will … evaluate it? The name is kind of self explanatory. Anyway, I should be getting the results of my return evaluation back within 7-10 business days.

If everything goes really well, the evaluator will love the new, shortened version, and be so impressed with my flawless grasp on English grammar that she’ll recommend me for publication and Editor’s Choice designation on the spot. In all likelihood, of course, she’ll probably find a few things for me to improve on, and recommend a professional copy-edit. But, as I’ve said before, I’m all right with that. I’m trying the iUniverse route this time, and although it might be expensive, I’m going to wait until I see the finished product before I start forming opinions.

So anyway, the book is finally moving forward, and I’m incredibly excited about that. Yay!

American vs. Canadian Grammar

I’m Canadian, and as such, I use Canadian spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Americans do not use Canadian spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Since I’ve struggled with the conversion, I thought I might share the fruits of my knowledge with you here. Some of the examples are direct Canadian-to-American issues, will some of the examples are just basic grammar know-how that I recently discovered I’ve been doing all wrong.


“Alright” is not a word. The correct usage is “All right”. Apparently “alright” was used a lot in the old days, but it’s fallen out of proper use now, and therefore we shouldn’t be using it. All right, everyone got that?

Punctuation in Quotation Marks

Consider the following example:

Janine raised her arms in a gesture that clearly meant “come hither”.

Check out the end of that phrase. In Canadian punctuation, that sentence is fine. The phrase “come hither” is self-contained, and the period goes outside the quotation marks. In American punctuation, however, you stick the period inside the quotation marks, as follows:

Robert’s face was screwed up, as if to say “I’ll kill you all with my bare teeth.”


I personally think this one is open to debate, but the American grammatical standard requires that the word “God” always be capitalized. Always. No exceptions. If you’re talking about multiple gods or goddesses, that’s all right. But if you are referring to one, all-knowing, all-seeing deity, you capitalize the name.


This one annoyed me. The basic rule of thumb is that any time you use the word “Oh” — as in “Oh, no!” — you have to put a comma after it. I think it looks silly. I think “Oh yeah!” reads much more smoothly than “Oh, yeah!”. But apparently that’s the standard, much as I am loathe to admit it.


The ellipsis is, of course, the “…” in sentences. Here are some examples of incorrectly used ellipses:

“He’s so… gorgeous.”

“He’s so…gorgeous.”

In case that didn’t make it obvious, the problem here is the spacing. An ellipsis needs a space before and after. So, the sentence should properly read:

“He’s so … gorgeous.”

If you’ve been skipping the space before the ellipsis, like I’ve been doing, the new spacing is going to look weird. But it’s also the correct spacing, so get used to hitting that space bar!

In conclusion, grammar is annoying.

It occurs to me that only one of those examples actually had anything to do with differences between America and Canada. Oh, well.

Unrelated image of the day:

Source and credit go to:

Categories: iUniverse, My Works, Self Publishing, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 56 Comments

Editing Tips: Keep Track of the Little Things

I wouldn’t consider myself an “expert” editor, but seeing as I’ve spent the last two months of my life editing Imminent Danger, I’d say I’m at least qualified to give out a few amateur tips.

Today’s topic revolves around keeping track of the little things. I’m not talking about punctuation, or spelling, or capitalization. I’m talking about remembering what your character is actually doing. As in, where are they in a particular scene? Are they standing? Are they sitting? If they were sitting and then stood up, are they still standing the next time we hop back to them? Are they holding anything? Do they not have it when they say their next line of dialogue? Where did it go?


My biggest faux-pas with this type of thing came not in Imminent Danger, but in a Harry Potter fanfiction I wrote years ago called Harry Potter and the Dream Come True. In the story, I had Harry get magical laser eye surgery so that he wouldn’t need his glasses. I promptly forgot about that, and in the next chapter he was wearing glasses. From that point on, in some chapters he wore them, and in some chapters he didn’t. My readers were furious. They demanded I change it. I had every intention of doing so, but then I went to university and forgot all about Harry and his mysterious disappearing and reappearing glasses. Heck, it’s Hogwarts. There are weirder things there than magic glasses, am I right?

I’m probably not. That’s okay, though. Moving on!

So I’ve compiled a handy list of little things in your book/novella/screenplay/poem that you might want to keep track of in order to prevent inconsistencies and what I call “Reader Rage”. Thus, I present to you:

Keep Track of the Little Things! (a checklist)

~ Position (e.g., sitting, standing, kneeling, crouching, sprawled unconscious on the floor)

~ Attire (e.g., glasses, hat, sandals, muumuu)

~ Appearance (e.g., eye colour, hair colour, height, weight, horrendous disfigurements)

~ Current Mood (e.g., happy, depressed, furious, lustful)

~ Possessions (e.g., weapon, precious heirloom, beverage, cell phone, super-weapon of ultimate destruction)

Okay, I ran out of ideas. But you get the point! You want to avoid an Ascanius situation at all costs. And for those of you who didn’t study Classical Studies extensively and haven’t read Virgil’s Aeneid (so, no one, right?), Ascanius is a kid who varies in age from a toddler to a teenager throughout the story based on what the situation demands from him. One moment he’s leading troops into battle, the next he’s being bounced on Dido’s lap. I’m simplifying things, obviously, but that’s his age problem in a nutshell.

There aren’t enough pictures in this post, so here are various representations of Ascanius in art. Note how he varies from (winged?) baby to teenager to child:

Minor logical consistencies are indeed minor, but they’re still hella annoying if you notice them while reading. So fix them before that happens!

Random link of the day (ultimate troll edition):

Note before clicking: “Ken M” is a person who goes around and posts “troll” comments for his or her own amusement. Other commenters don’t understand he is “trolling”, and react poorly.


Categories: Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

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