Editing Tip: 10 Words to Search For in Your Manuscript

JULIET MADISON

967211_magnifying_glassWhen I’m editing, and before I do a final read through and tweaking of my manuscript, I use Microsoft Word’s ‘find’ feature to search for the following ten words. These words can usually be deleted in order to tighten up the writing and focus on ‘showing vs telling’.

1. almost
Sometimes ‘almost’ can work but often it’s not needed. Eg: With his sunken eyes and pallor he almost looked like a ghost. An example where it may work could be: She almost slammed the door in his face. Or instead of that, it could be changed to: She resisted the urge to slam the door in his face.
2. very
Usually there is a stronger word available to replace the need for ‘very’, or the phrase can be changed completely to something else. Eg: ‘very sad’ could become ‘despondent’. Eg: It was very sunny. Better: It was sunny. Even better:…

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3 thoughts on “Editing Tip: 10 Words to Search For in Your Manuscript

  1. I’d agree with most of those. To me there is a nuance between saying ‘the shop is around the corner’, and ‘the shop is just around the corner’—the word just gives an indication of how far away it is. As a general rule, the more words you can cut out while still keeping the sense, the better. Good to be reminded of it!

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  2. A most interesting pointers for editing. I know I have a big problem with one word in particular and it’s the word ‘that.’ I may have to have a look back at all the writing I’ve been doing and see if I can find these words.

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