I write quick paced fantasy books with a sprinkling of humor.  With that being said, here’s what I edit for on the first pass through:

Long sentences.  I love commas.  I love them so much that on the first editing run, I can sometimes break one sentence into three.  Long sentences slow down the pace of the book.  My beloved commas must go to keep the pace I want.

Tense confusion/verb confusion:  When I’m type, type, typing along I sometimes used uses use the wrong tense.  This is particularly true when I’ve rewritten a scene.

Where was I going with that?:  Sometimes I’ve rewritten a scene later in the book and when I go back and re-read I find a snippet of dialogue or description left over from the earlier draft.  I rewrite or delete these (no matter how brilliantly written they may be).

Long paragraphs:  I keep my paragraphs short in general, but every once in a while I read through a monster paragraph where I must have been on a roll and was too excited to hit the return key.  I break these down, sometimes and delete whole, redundant sentences (thank goodness).

Stating the obvious:  I have an annoying quirk of writing out the conclusion I want the reader to draw in my first draft.  I delete these when I find them, and then I re-read the scene to make sure I really did lay the ground work for the reader to draw that conclusion.

Frequent words and indecisive words:   Sometimes, almost, practically, a little, smiled…there are so many words that I find over and over again in my stories.  I delete the indecisive ones (sometimes, practically, etc.) and find new ones for the common words that are more descriptive (smiled becomes smirked or grinned, etc.).  I also read each paragraph to make sure I haven’t used the same word multiple times in one paragraph, or used it again in the next paragraph.  For instance:  I closed the car door and looked back at my partner.  Coyote stood with his elbows on the roof of the car and stared at me I sighed and walked back to the car, a little reluctant to leave without finding any clues.  If I were reading this book I would close it, roll my eyes and give up.  Unfortunately, not everyone reads their own material for over used, unnecessary words.  **Sigh**

Back story:  I have to give back story now and then, but I keep it to one or two sentences.  If it’s a paragraph of details about my character’s past, it gets cut to one or two sentences.  Back story pulls a reader right out of the present action.  I also delete multiple tid-bits of back story, and I try to keep those in the first few chapters.  Sometimes, I find I have explained some critical bit of the character’s history in the second half of the book.  When this happens, I go back to the first half and work it in to the story earlier.

Because I do so many back and forth edits, I only look for a few things per editing pass.  The ones I’ve listed above are the easy edits for me to do…the second pass is sometimes more challenging.  I hope I’ve given a few good hints here.  Good luck and happy writing!


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