Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Ultimate Manuscript Editing Checklist

The more dozens of hours that I spend editing Synesthesis, the more things I learn about the writing process. My perspective on character building, POV, and action have all changed, hopefully for the better, over the past month and a half. Because I want you all to benefit from my mistakes, I have included my Ultimate Editing Checklist so that you can know all of the things I've learned from hundreds of hours of editing before you even start! (Nice, right?!)

So here are the fourteen questions you need to ask yourself before you send out your manuscript:

1) Have you made all of your passive sentences active?
2) Have you eliminated common words? (For me, these are "Yeah. Well. That. Been. Was.)
4) Do the characters' personalities differ enough?
5) Does every scene contain action? Not just an info dump?
6) Are your characters consistent in their actions and dialog? No sudden changes of heart or jumps in tone of voice?
7) Are all of the characters essential to your story?
8) Are you telling too much, instead of letting the readers learn for themselves?
9) Do you give the reader enough info about every character as they enter the story? Would your readers be able to finish and tell you the characters' ages, rough images, and personalities.
10) Are your suspenseful actions suspensful? (Not just mentioned once in the beginning and then appear 100 pages later)
11) Are your plot twists developed so though the reader will not initially figure them out, they can look back and have it all make sense?
12) Are all of your scenes told from one POV? Or at least, only one POV, per chapter?
13) Are you using -ly words sparingly? Replacing them with stronger verbs or metaphor?
14) Are you using appropriate grammar and punctuation? (Check for misplaced apostraphes, over-use or under-use of commas, missing question marks, single dashes where double dashes should be and vice versa, etc)

Hopefully these will be helpful to you. I'm still working my way through and making sure to fix the questions that I can't yet answer yes to. Good luck in your editing!

<3 Gina Blechman


  1. Super helpful questionnaire even at the early stages of editing. Thanks for sharing :)

  2. Great list! I wish I could say yes to more of these!

  3. Very useful, thanks! :D *bookmarks*

  4. Holy crap! I'm doing everything wrong according to the checklist :) No, actually I think the checklist is perfect and is a great tool to use. I will bookmark this so I can come back and go through it when I get to the editing process. If only I can write my ending.

    Consider yourself stalked :) You are officially on my BEST DARN BLOGS EVER! file. I will be back to stalk you some more when I return from Hawaii--you've been warned.

    ~Angela Scott

  5. Great set of tips. I did read that every character should have something incongruous about them because people are incongruous and complex. So my MC is a bit of a bitch who is trying to knit a cardigan! :O)

  6. Excellent list. I'll be putting this in my editing folder. Thanks!

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