• Rachael Bell-Irving

The Editing Chopping Block

Editing shapes a book into its final form, and no word is safe from the process. After making major changes to the plot of my Pirate work in progress (WIP), I have moved onto the editing phase. My goal is to clean up the manuscript so that when i give it to beta readers they are not distracted by sentence structure and can focus on the story. My grammar is not very strong, and because of this, I have also been doing some research to improve my craft.


One of the key pieces of advice I hear repeated by many other writers is to cut out adverbs from the manuscript. They're sneaky little words, and quite often unnecessary to the actual sentence structure. Cutting adverbs helps create a smoother and concise read. It's a good habit to get into and, once you start watching for adverbs you can never unsee them.


While conducting m initial read-through and plot edits, I note words that frequently appear. I then combine this list with other common words that are often overused, to create my chopping block list. Then, before going evaluating each sentence one by one (grooooaaan), I go through the manuscript using the CTRL+F function on my word document to find these pesky words.


Here is my (always growing) list of all the words lined up on the editing chopping block:

Absolutely

Actually

Almost

Although

Appeared

Basically

Began

Begin

Begun

Breath

Breathe

Certainly

Chest

Completely

Currently

Decide

Definitely

Even

Eyes

Feel

Felt

Gaze

Get

Glanced

Glared

Got

Great

Grin

Growl

Heart

Just

Kind of

Know

Like

Literally

Little

Look

Looked

Loudly

Many

Much

Nearly

Necessary

Noticed

Now

Only

Perhaps

Probably

Quickly

Quite

Rarely

Rather

Realize

Really

Saw

See

Seem

Shrug

Simply

Slightly

Smirk

So

Somehow

Something

Somewhat

Sort of

Start

Stomach

Strange

That

Then

There

Things

Think

Though

Thought

Tilted

Totally

Truly

Understand

Very

Virtually

Was

Were

Wonder

I can't say this is a complete list of words that deserves a spot on the chopping block, because I am sure I will come across more in my career. If I've missed any of your favourites, let me know in the comments. Happy editing!

©2019 by Rachael Bell-Irving. Proudly created with Wix.com