Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Easy Editing Tips!

Debby Giusti here!

 Now that Speedbo 2013 has come to an end, it’s time to edit our pages. On April 29, Erica Vetsch will talk about Macro Editing when she guest blogs on Seekerville. Today, I’m featuring Edits Lite, which could also be termed Micro Editing.

Let’s look at some tricks of the trade that can speed the process of transforming our rough first drafts into salable prose. Hopefully, these editing tips—all rather easy peasy lemon squeezy--can strengthen our writing and speed the revision process.

We’ll start at the beginning…

Anchor your reader. 

Ensure the opening of your manuscript identifies at least some of the following: the setting, locale, season of the year and time of day. In addition, it should introduce the protagonist, or main point of view character, as well as provide a clear explanation of what is occurring. If the story is set in another world or another time, clue in the reader immediately.

Here’s the beginning of THE CAPTAIN’S MISSION, the second book in my Military Investigations series:

Angry storm clouds turned the evening sky over Fort Rickman, Georgia, as dark as the mood within the car. Michele Logan pulled her eyes from the road and glanced at her mother, sitting next to her in the passenger seat. 

Roberta Logan, usually the poised colonel’s wife, toyed with the collar of her blouse and gave voice to a subject that had weighed on Michele’s heart for the past two years. “Despite what you think, dear, you haven’t gotten over your brother’s death.” 

Ever since she and her mother had left her parents’ quarters en route to the potluck dinner, Roberta had insisted on talking about the accident that had claimed Lance’s life. The topic added to Michele’s anxiety, especially with the inclement August weather and the darkening night. 

Introduce your characters. 

Use each character’s whole name when he or she first appears on the page. (In romance, the first male introduced is usually the hero, and the first female is the heroine. If that’s not the case, the secondary characters’ descriptions should establish their “lesser” roles to the reader.) A short description of each newly introduced character is usually included in the introspection of the point of view character.

In the following excerpt from NOWHERE TO HIDE, hero Matt Lawson discovers the heroine breaking into an upscale home in a gated community where he works as the chief of security. The readers meet Lydia Sloan at the beginning of the story, but they see her through Matt’s POV in Chapter Two: 

Matt Lawson peered into the darkness, saw movement and aimed his gun. “Hold it right there.” He raised the flashlight in his left hand. The arc of light broke through the darkness. “Sanctuary Security. Step toward me. Hands in the air.” 

No reaction. 

“Now, buddy!” 

A woman moved from the shadows. Slender. Five foot six. Shoulder-length blond hair. A child peered around the counter. She shoved him protectively behind her. 

“What’s going on, ma’am?” 

Lightning illuminated the spacious kitchen. Two seconds later, a clap of thunder confirmed a nearby hit. 

Why in the world would a woman and child break into one of the prestigious homes on Sanctuary Island? The woman certainly didn’t look as if she belonged in the upscale community. Wrinkled clothes. Hair hanging limp around her oval face. She reminded him of a stray cat, needing to be fed. 

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all? 

Asking the POV character to describe herself can be tricky. Yes, she can look in a mirror and discuss what she sees, but that’s an amateurish technique that should be avoided unless the heroine “sees” herself in a negative light. As most of us know, women often focus on their flaws instead of their attributes, and a less than flattering mention could serve to reveal some of the heroine’s internal struggle. That being said, the best option is to have the hero describe the heroine when the POVs switch in the next scene.

Shame on me, but I used the mirror trick in my second book, SCARED TO DEATH. My heroine Kate is driving into a storm to retrieve a missing cross from her estranged friend Tina: 

Kate glanced at her reflection in the rearview mirror. Even Tina’s raven-black hair and voluptuous Latina body contrasted sharply with Kate’s rather average looks. In Kate’s opinion, her only attributes—and that might be stretching the point—were her fierce determination and blue eyes. Right now those eyes were bloodshot-red. 

Balance narrative with dialogue. 

Narrative slows the pace and is more telling. Dialogue is active and draws the reader into the story. Break up long sections of narrative with snippets of conversation or have the information revealed through dialogue alone.

Because KILLER HEADLINE was the second book in the Protecting the Witnesses continuity series, I needed to bring readers up to speed on what had happened in the first story. Instead of narrative, I used the following phone conversation between my journalist heroine, Violet Kramer, and her Chicago informant: 

Her cell rang. She glanced at her watch—twelve-fifteen—and reached for her phone, noting the caller’s Chicago area code. “Kramer.” 

“It’s Gwyn.” 

“I planned to check online in case you left a message,” Violet said. The informant had told her never to phone lest her boyfriend—a mobster who worked with the Martino family—answer the call. 

“Angelo’s away for the night. I bought one of those nontraceable cell phones. Wanted you to know the latest.” 

Violet’s stomach tightened, hearing the wariness in Gwyn’s voice. “You’re okay, aren’t you?” 

“Angelo’s acting strange. He said everyone’s on edge. Vincent Martino’s making changes. Angelo knew where he stood when the old don, Salvatore, was in charge. With Vincent, things aren’t so clear. Angelo said the new don has to prove himself to his father before Salvatore dies. Somehow it involves those women who were killed in Montana.” 

Just as long as Gwyn didn’t get hurt. 

Although Violet had never met her informant in person, she and Gwyn had connected online a little over a year ago when Violet had researched a possible story lead on the mob. She’d never completed the story, but the mobster’s girlfriend had kept in touch, providing more and more insider information. With Violet’s encouragement, Gwyn had recently admitted she wanted to make a new life for herself free from Angelo and the mob. 

“Some of the capos are upset,” Gwyn said. “Evidently, the hit men went after the wrong women.” 

“You mean, Ruby Summers Maxwell and Carlie Donald weren’t supposed to die?” 

“The target was someone else. A gal named Eloise Hill. At least that’s what Angelo heard. She testified against Salvatore years ago.” 

“And Vincent wants her dead to gain favor with his ailing father?” 

“Vincent lacks Salvatore’s charisma. Some say he’s more interested in women than in running the organization.” 

“Can you find out more about Eloise for me? And let me know if any other women are being targeted?” 

“I’ll see what I can do.” 

 Weed out author intrusion and info dumps. 

Author intrusion is when the writer inserts his or her personal opinion into a story. Info dumps are when additional information is provided that does not necessarily enhance the story. Any information needed for the story should be introduced by the characters and not as an aside that pulls the reader out of the plot’s forward progression.

Keep your sentences active. 

Rewrite passive sentences into active voice: subject-verb-object.

The ball was thrown by the boy. Passive. 
The boy threw the ball. Active. 

Adverbs are rarely needed. 

Don’t overuse adverbs, especially with dialogue tags. Instead, use description or active beats to replace–ly words.

 “You’re a louse,” Janine said angrily. 
 Janine fisted her hands and stomped her foot. “You’re a louse.”

Watch for word or phrase duplication. 

If you’re like me, a favorite word or turn of phrase can keep reappearing in a manuscript. Each time the turn of phrase is used weakens the overall effect. What began as a fresh and unique turn of phrase can easily become an aggravation for the reader if used too often.

 Vary sentence structure. 

Repeating the same sentence pattern over and over again spells one thing: BORING! Add introductory phrases, join two complete sentences with a conjunction or insert short sentences into the mix to keep the reader engaged.

 The beginning of THE GENERAL’S SECRETARY shows how I varied sentence structure: 

Lillie Beaumont gasped for air and fought her way through the dream that came too often. Her heart pounded a warning as she blinked open her eyes, allowing the dark outline of her bedroom to sweep into focus. She lifted her head off the pillow and anticipated the distant thunder before the sound reached her ears. 

Low. Rumbling. Menacing, like cannon fire at nearby Fort Rickman, Georgia. 

Weeding her fingers through the sheets, she grasped for anything that would calm her spinning stomach and racing pulse. 

Another rumble, this time closer. 

Then another and another in rapid succession, each encroaching on her space, her air, her life. 

 She, She, She or He, He, He problems? 

Be on the lookout for character names or personal pronouns used repeatedly at the beginning of sentences. To catch repeats, read the story in hard copy or switch to web layout (under the View option on your task bar) as opposed to print layout. Some folks change fonts to help recognize duplicate words and typos. Others use a two column, single-spaced format that more closely aligns to the printed book form. Bottom line, use any trick that helps your weary eyes find mistakes.

 Filter out filter words. 

Certain words, called filters, form a barrier between the character and the reader. Whenever possible stay clear of feel, hear, see, think, wonder, realize, watch. For a longer list, go to Susan Dennard’s blog.

 He heard the cell phone ring. Filter. 
 The cell phone chirped. Non-filter. 

 She realized she was wrong. Filter. 
 She was wrong. Non-filter. 

 Don’t overuse italics. 

Foreign words are written in italics. Internal prayers in Love Inspired books are also written in italics. Deep introspection, written in first person, requires italics. Additionally, certain words—keep these to a minimum—may be written in italics for emphasis, but overuse can frustrate the reader and weaken the effect.

MIA: MISSING IN ATLANTA provides the following use of italics: 

Stepping into the foyer, Sarah opened the front door to the extent of the chain lock and regarded the visitor. 

Crystal-blue eyes, straw-blond hair cut in a military buzz. 

When he turned those blue eyes toward her, a feeling stirred deep within her. She swallowed, having difficulty finding her voice. 

Not what she needed at this point in her life. Get a grip, Sarah. 

“May I help you?” 

“Yes, ma’am.” 

Polite. She’d give him that much. Probably six-two, he had a thick neck, broad shoulders and biceps that bulged beneath the digital pattern of his uniform. 

He glanced down at a photograph he clutched in his hand and held it up to where she could see the woman’s image. Expressive round eyes, slender nose, shoulder-length black hair framing an oval face. 

“Ma’am, I’m looking for Nicole Valentine.” 

No doubt the person in the photo. Sarah raised a questioning brow. “And you came here because…?” 

He let out a quick breath. “One-fourteen Rosemont. That is your address, isn’t it?” 

“That’s right, but—” 

“Nicole Valentine lives here,” he stated before Sarah could continue. Then he paused, probably noticing the perplexed expression on her face. “I just returned from the Middle East. Nicole and I…” He glanced again at the photo. “You see, ma’am, she sent me this address.” 

Sarah could read people, and everything about the man standing on her front porch said he was legit. Maybe a little mixed up as to where his girlfriend lived, but the guy didn’t seem to pose a threat to either Sarah or the kids at the shelter. 

“Just a minute.” She slipped off the chain lock, opened the door wide and walked onto the porch. 

He took a step back. Had she crowded him? 

“Look, Major—” 

His gaze warmed momentarily. “Hate to turn down a promotion, but it’s captain, ma’am. Captain Jude Walker.” 

She nodded and tried to offer him what she realized must have seemed a halfhearted smile. But she did have work to do and kids to take care of, so… 

“Captain Walker.” 

“Call me Jude, ma’am.” 

“And I’m Sarah Montgomery.” The guy seemed sweet in a rugged sort of way, like a cocker spaniel in a rottweiler body. 

“I’m afraid you have the wrong address, Jude. This is a shelter for teens. Your girlfriend doesn’t live here.” 


He hadn’t corrected her when she called the beautiful woman his girlfriend. For half a heartbeat, Sarah envied the woman in the photo. 

“A teen shelter? Are you sure?” His question sounded like one the kids would ask. 

“Yes, I am sure, Captain. I’m well aware of who finds lodging within this house.” 

 Just say no to exclamation points!!!! 

 Are they ever needed in a manuscript? In my opinion, no! I often use them in my email correspondence and blog comments, but I rarely use them in my stories.

 The exception would be expletives in dialogue: 

 “Of course not!” 
 “How dare you!” 

 Check your use of dashes and ellipses. 

The dash is typed as two hyphens and signifies an interruption. (I butt my two hyphens up to the adjoining words without adding a space.) Ellipses signal a pause and are written as three periods typed one after the other without a space in between.

 Notice the use of dashes and ellipses in this scene from COUNTDOWN TO DEATH, where hero Luke Garrison saves Allison Stewart from a fire on the second floor of the B&B where she’s staying. He climbed along the back porch and broke a window to reach her. 

Luke grabbed the woman and guided her over the windowsill. She clung to him, her fingers digging into his flesh. 

“I’ve got you,” he assured her. “We jump on three.” 

She shook her head. “I…I can’t.” 

“You have to,” he insisted. “One…Two…” 

He wrapped his arm protectively around her waist. “Three.” 

They jumped just before the room exploded, spewing a ball of fire into the night. 

A clump of overgrown azalea bushes broke their fall. Together they rolled and came to rest on a mound of thick pine needles. 

Luke groaned as he pulled himself to a sitting position. Lights flashed. The fire chief appeared, yelling orders to his men. A scurry of activity surrounded them as hoses stretched toward the flames. Water hissed from the nozzles. 

The woman lay on the ground, eyes closed, golden hair streaming around a face pale as death. 

“Ma’am?” Luke nudged her shoulder. “Ma’am?” 

When she didn’t respond, he touched her neck. No pulse. 

“She needs help,” he shouted, hoping to attract attention. 

Knowing every second was critical, Luke tilted her head back. With swift, sure movements, he blew two quick puffs of air into her mouth, then, intertwining his fingers, he pressed down on her sternum. 

“And one, and two…” He counted the compressions. 

Where were the medical personnel? 

“And three, and—” 

“We’ll take it from here.” A team of EMTs scurried to his aid. 

Luke edged back to let them do their job.

Beef up your hooks. 

Each scene should end with a hook that keeps the reader engaged in the story. Check to ensure your scene and chapter endings are dynamic and tease the reader into turning the page and continuing to read.

Following the fire in COUNTDOWN TO DEATH, the sheriff questions Allison, and the scene ends with the following hook: 

 The sheriff pursed his lips. “We’ve never had an arson case before.” 

Her breath caught. “Arson?” 

 His gaze was direct, his tone as cold as the wind. “The fire started in the hallway outside your room, and was fueled by an accelerant.” 

 Allison’s neck tingled and a sick feeling roiled through her stomach. 

 “Hate to tell you, ma’am—” 

 She flicked another glance at Luke, who stared into the fireplace. 

 “From the looks of it—” 

 The sheriff shook his head, his voice distant. 

 A roar filled her ears. She swallowed down the lump that clogged her throat and tried to hear what he was saying. 

 “From the looks of it, I’d say someone in Sterling wants you dead.” 

 End with a Happily Ever After. 

 In “The End,” my Seekerville, March 20, 2013 blog,” I wrote: “The beginning of a story sells the current book, but the ending sells the next book.” Don’t skimp on emotion at the conclusion of your story. Tie up loose end. Have the hero and heroine declare their love and give the reader an ending she will always remember…especially as she heads to the store to buy your next book.

Here’s the conclusion of THE COLONEL’S DAUGHTER, which hopefully provides that all important happily ever after: 

Time stood still as he pulled forth a small box. His strong fingers reached for the object, hidden inside, that he held up for her to see. A beautiful solitaire diamond ring. The radiant stone sparkled in the candlelight and reflected the love she saw in his eyes. 

 “Michele, I’m asking you to be my wife. It won’t always be candlelight and roses, but if you’ll have me as your husband, I promise to honor you and cherish you and love you all the days of my life.” 

Her eyes burned and a lump formed in her throat. “Oh, Jamison.” She couldn’t talk for a long moment as she looked at him, seeing the good man, the honorable man, the righteous man he had always been. She had just needed to look beyond her fear to see the possibility of a future together. 

Extending her left hand, she smiled as he slipped the ring on her finger. “I would be honored to be your wife,” she said, gazing into his eyes. “I promise to love you and cherish you and go wherever you go for the rest of my life.” 

She stepped into his arms, feeling his strength and his gentleness at the same time. They had a lot to learn about each other, but God would give them time, a lifetime together. 

Jamison had taught her to live in the present and be grateful for every blessing the Lord provided. Life was a mix of joy and sorrow. Theirs would be no different, but she no longer had to fear God or the future. 

“I belong in your arms,” she sighed as he lowered his lips to hers. Jamison kissed her as if he never wanted to let her go, and she knew what they had together was more perfect than any diamond or flower or the fine china or anything else the world might offer in comparison. They had chosen the better portion, the love that would last a lifetime and carry them into eternity. Which is how long she wanted to stay wrapped in his arms. 

 “How long is eternity?” she asked. 

 “Not long enough.” And then he kissed her again and again and again. 

 I hope some of these easy editing techniques will help you in the revision process. Please share your own editing tips—or other pertinent comments--to be included in a drawing for one of my books, winner’s choice.

The coffee’s hot. Thanks, Helen! Today’s breakfast includes scrambled eggs, bacon and sausage, biscuits, fresh fruit and grits. Enjoy!

 Happy writing! Happy editing!

 Wishing you abundant blessings,
Debby Giusti

I'll be at Barbara Vey's Readers Appreciation Luncheon next Saturday, April 27. Would love to see you there. For info, check out the website here.

 The General’s Secretary, book 4 in my Military Investigations series, is available here. Watch for The Soldier’s Sister, to be released in October.

By Debby Giusti 
Trusting the Wrong Person Can Be Deadly... 

Lillie Beaumont's dark past has just turned up on her porch--fatally wounded. The dying words of the man imprisoned for killing Lillie's mother suggest hidden secrets. Criminal Investigations Division special agent Dawson Timmons agrees. He has his own motive for seeking the truth, and it gives Lillie every reason to doubt him. But even as they reluctantly begin to face painful secrets together, Dawson fears that a murderer is waiting to strike again. And this time, Lillie is right in the line of fire...


  1. Love this! This is a great checklist! I need to print it out when I'm editing my work and when I'm judging contest entries! :)

  2. This is great, but it scares me. :)
    I just finished editing my latest manuscript. Now I feel like I need to go through it again. And again. And ...

    Seriously, I do some of these things better than others.

    I always print a hard copy before I edit. I need to be able to flip through the pages and use that red pen.

    Yep, the coffee's ready.


  3. Debby Debby Debby ~ See what you started?? ;)

    May and I JUST began editing our current WIP. Once again, you've jumped to the rescue. Thank you soooo much!! (Having to use these while I can!)

    You might check the link - it's saying "Not Found."

    Another printer-offer for my Seekerville go-to binder! Thank you again!

    Happy editing everypawdy...

  4. Terrific guidelines, Debby. Another goody to print out and use as I edit. Thanks for the great post!

    See you in ten days!


  6. Debby,
    Thank you for this fabulous post. I am editing a ms RIGHT NOW and I am so grateful your blogpost fell into my lap.

  7. Laughing at Melissa... and her em-dashes....

    I love my em-dash and my ellipses.

    I'm addicted!!!!!!

    Deb, this is a print-off post because the checklist involved is something I need as I check for my Rewards per Page... my repetitiveness... my emotional punch... (note the ellipses... I can't seem to stop myself!!!! Oh, and now the exclamation points are taking on a life of their own!!!! :)

    I very rarely use an exclamation point except in old lady speech (grinning and true!!!) blog posts and comments (also true!!!) and small child dialogue (Still grinning) because they work for the emotion of the small child where everything's a wonder, or the old lady where everything's got to be done just so and yesterday!!!! And they can work in suspense because of the tension ramp, but I don't like them in traditional romance.

    But that's just me.

    Lyndee, I love that youse guys are getting together! (another exclamation point, and well deserved!!!) Hooray!

    Hey, I made my first home made bagels yesterday... Dudes, try them and tell me what you think. The husband loved them and ate three... and he doesn't usually eat bagels, but this recipe was wonderful.

    Check 'em out. And there's flavored cream cheese to the left, on the oak sideboard.

    I dusted it for youse.

  8. enjoyed the post, have to say i laughed at the boy throwing the boy.

    I tend to overdo the exclamation mark or did till I found it to hard to type it with my left hand. but found I could compensate with my right hand!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    14 days from tomorrow I leave home for my holiday!!!! its both scary and exciting. Scary at how much I need to do. I am fighting exhaustion again at present and I think its got a lot to do with the cortisone injection last week and the fact the body has been in pain so long. now that most of its gone just a little discomfort at times I think the body is trying to readjust (or so the counselor I saw said)

    Anyway off to bed early (feel asleep in NCIS last night went to bed and was so awake I didn't sleep well)

  9. Erica, can't wait to ready your blog on Macro Editing! April 29th!

  10. Helen, raising my first cup of the day to you! Thanks!

    My alarm clock read 6 AM, which was when I wanted to get up. When I got to the kitchen and looked at THAT clock, it was 7 AM. I need a new bedroom alarm.

    Edits just keep going and going and going, don't they? Like the Energizer Bunny. Often they never stop.

    Maybe that's why we have deadlines. Eventually, we're forced to mail in the manuscript.

  11. Thanks, KC and May. I'll check the link.

  12. Lyndee, counting down the days until I see you at Barbara Vey's Readers Luncheon! Can't wait!

  13. I like emdashes/dashes too, Melissa. But too many are distracting to the reader. Sorry. :)

  14. Hi Laura, hope the tips help. As you may have noticed, I only mentioned the really easy tricks. Erica will tackle the hard stuff. :)

  15. Good morning, Debby! Wonderful points clearly illustrated!

  16. Ruthy, I LOVE bagels! Thank hubby for saving some for Seekerville.

    And flavored cream cheese. I could be a New long as I had grits.

    Great point about using exclamation points with dialogue for small children. Like you, I love using them in emails and blog comments.

  17. The filtering link is fixed. Make sure you come back to Seekerville though, pretty please. :)

    Also I added a link for Barbara Vey's Readers Luncheon at the end of my blog. Would love to see you there.

  18. Jenny, I put that in to see who would catch the error. LOL

    Actually, it happened when I changed some text. GRRR! See how easily those mistakes can happen.

    Thanks for mentioning the problem, which is now fixed!

  19. Calling all Seekervillagers in the Atlanta area...

    We're meeting Jenny for lunch at the Ruby Tuesday's near the airport on Monday, May 6, 11 AM! Join us if you can!!!

    For more information email me:
    debby at debbygiusti dot com

  20. Hi Glynna,
    Thanks for stopping in before you head off to work. Have a great day!

  21. Wonderful check list and very timely for me. I'm in the revision stage of my contracted manuscript.

  22. Hi Debby,

    This is definitely a keeper.

    You pointed out some great areas I'm weak on. Filters may be at the top of my list.

    Thanks so much for sharing.

    I hope you all have a great day!
    Jackie L.

  23. Great checklist Debby, I love it! Thank you for posting it. I especially love the excerpts. I told you this before, but I remain awed by those who are able to write suspense--so congrats to you!

    Have a great day,


  24. Hi Rose, we all seem to be in the editing phase. Hope the check list helps.

    Will you be at RWA this year?

    Anyone else planning to go? It's in Atlanta, which is perfect for folks in the Southeast.

  25. Hi Jackie,
    For so long, I didn't know about filters. I kept having my characters filter everything!

    Finally, a GRW friend told me about filtering.

    Who knew?

    I didn't. Now I do, although I still include filters from time to time. We all know how hard it is to catch every mistake. :)

  26. You're so sweet, Piper! Have a good day. Aren't the new leaves green. Looks like the yellow pollen is better too!

  27. Great tips! I've printed them off too, along with the filter words from Pub Crawl. I struggle with that. Ever time I write the word "felt" I hear a published friend saying "Felt only belongs on a pool table." Sometimes I just can't get around it.

    I'm waiting for feedback on my novella from another published friend. In the meantime I'm still stuck on the latest short story.

    And work has just been h-e-double hockey sticks this week. The week before a trial always is. This too shall pass.


  28. Great tips, Debby.

    I'll add this to my scene check list file.

    On behalf of em-dash lovers everywhere…Two em-dashes are used in your example of “Beef up your hooks.” :) j/s

  29. Good morning, Debby.

    Thanks! Enjoying the conversation this morning and have accessed the link.

    Happy writing!

    (Yes Ruthy - they DO take on a life of their own!!!!!!)

  30. But I love exclamation marks, Debby!!!! I talk in them so why can't I write in them?!!! :-)

    Punctuation will be my nemesis...I know it!!!!!!

    This is a great checklist, though. Some I've done in the first draft (some to excess!!!) and some I haven't so I'm going to print this up and stick it on the wall above my desk as a reminder.

  31. Aloha! Just what I needed now that I am back from my post-Speedbo Hawaiian recovery break. Ready to revise!

    Did I mention my third grandbaby, Malone, the sweetest baby girl ever besides her sister, was born two days before I left? Ach!

    I have all your books so no need to put me in. But I am dropping off fresh pineapple to go with breakfast!

    Peace, Julie

  32. WHOA, DEB ... THIS IS A DEFINITE KEEPER!!! And for a moment there ... just about point twenty or so ... you reminded me of somebody ...

    Ah -- RUTHY, that's it!! ;)

    And I'm with Melissa, Ruthy, and Kav -- LOVE those emdashes, ellipses and exclamation points!!! All I can say is ... THANK GOD FOR COPY EDITORS!!!

    I think this could be a chapter in a writing book, Deb, it's THAT good!!


  33. Debby, what a great post! I so appreciate all the tips and suggestions you gave, as well as your examples.

    I like my em-dashes too. Ellipses...they're my best friend. Unfortunately, I've gotten marked for having too many of them in my ms...a few times. :)

    I hope to check in later and read more comments. :) Thanks again, Debby!

  34. Great tips DEBBY. Loved how you showed us in the examples from your writing. I think it helps to understand what you are talking about. smile

    How fun to meet at Ruby Tuesdays and meet Jenny. Wish I could be there. It was like meeting Jan Christiansen and Marianne Barker at the CWOW meeting. I LOVE meeting Seeker friends.

    Have a great day.

  35. This is really good stuff, Debby.
    This one:

    Angry storm clouds turned the evening sky over Fort Rickman, Georgia, as dark as the mood within the car.

    In one sentence you set us in place, both the car and Georgia, and brought in the Fort for the military and set the mood as well as the weather, all while being very intriguing. Really great opening sentence.

  36. Great post, Debby!!!
    You know, I am so much more aware of these things than I used to be. Especially hooks. When I'm writing now, I try to think of the very best way of ending a scene. I try not to get too hung up on it in the first draft, but I love a great hook, and I will try to at least think of a sentence to end the scene with that will make the reader think.

  37. Wonderful! And I love the concrete examples.

    I'm printing this off to save for when I'm ready for editing mode :)

    Thanks, Debbie!

  38. Marilyn, laughing over your double hockey sticks. :)

    And felt on a pool table.

    Too cute!

  39. Bridgett,
    I know! I know!

    I break all the rules. I also noticed a lot of ellipses. Those were my earlier releases. LOL. Does that make it okay?

    What's the old adage? Do what I say and not what I do.


  40. KC, thanks for letting me know about the link not working. It took me to the website but not the filter blog.

    Now it's fixed...hopefully! :)

  41. Waving to Kav!!!

    Sharing your love of exclamation points!!!

    But they need to be at a minimum in our stories!!!

    Got it???

    Of course, you do!!!

  42. Oh, Julie, Hawaii and a new grandbaby? Be still my heart!

    The pineapple is yummy! Nothing like when it's straight from the islands.

    Give Malone and her big sister hugs from me. Bring pictures to RWA! 'kay?

    Aren't you sweet to have all my books. Sending cyber hugs to grandma too! Remind me to buy you a latte in Atlanta when next we meet!

  43. Jules...

    Although I love Ruthy, I wanted to be YOU with this blog.


    Love all the detail you provide. You're an excellent teacher.

    I'm just following your lead.


  44. Jeanne,

    Glad to be of help! As Bridgett so sweetly pointed out, I use them too often, as well.


  45. Thanks Debby,

    I still have to get my Speedbo story typed in. And check to make sure I did the full name in the opening of the sequels. My mind wants to do elipses and hyphens right, but the publisher has us add spaces because they translate better on the formatting

    I have been checking for the ly words. I stilll use some cause I like them every now and then..

  46. Oh and just wanted to share my excitement... In the Manor of the Ghost is available in print and I received a box of my books.

  47. Hi Debby! Great post!

    I'm in the middle of major editing right now myself so this is wonderful.

    What I'm finding tedious are the 'weasel words' - the words that get overused and don't add much, example: that, just, a little, very, really (to name a few).

    Going through each instance of the word 'that' (591 in the current ms!!) and deciding if it stays or goes and how to re-work it, is TORTURE!

    But oh so necessary!

    Thanks for the help!

    Have a wonderful day! (Forgive my exclamation marks!!!)


  48. Excellent tips, Debby! You nailed me on the "favorite words" thing. When I got my edits back recently on my upcoming release, When the Clouds Roll By, the first-round editor pointed out how often my characters "huffed."

    Then, as I worked through the edits, some form of "flicked" or "flickered" kept jumping out at me! Needless to say, I diligently searched for alternatives in both cases!

    Oh, and as for em-dashes and ellipsis, Ruthy & Melissa, I'm addicted, too!

  49. Congrats on the print copy of your book, Tina! Is this the first print copy you've got?

    Enjoy the excitement!

  50. Sandra,
    I was just thinking the same thing. It is wonderful when Seekerville friends meet. As I look at the various comments, I always remember the last time we were together, the laughter, the hugs, the sweet smiles. Love having that personal connection beyond cyber-space.

    BTW, some of the Seekers are giving a workshop at RWA Nationals this summer (thanks to Sandra who put the workshop together). We're talking about Seekerville and how to create a successful blog. I'll mention our vast worldwide community and how we always try to connect in person whenever we have the opportunity.

    Can't wait to be with Jenny in May!!! YAY!!!! Our Down Under Villager comes to Atlanta! I wish everyone could join us for that special get-together.

  51. Wow, Debby! Such great tips!
    I love how simply you explained filter words and passive/active voice. I do well with short & sweet and a good example. :-]

  52. Susan,
    I self publushed a couple a few years back. this my fist print book through a house

  53. Hi Melanie,
    Early on, Rita Herron, a GRW suspense writer, clued me in on hooks at the end of each scene. I knew the chapters needed to end with a hook, but I failed to realized each scene did as well.


    There was so much I didn't know. Still have so much to learn. Perhaps that's why I love writing...there's always something new to discover.

  54. I liked the other tips also. But those two are ones I was the most unaware of.

  55. Jan, are you home from your travels yet?

    Sending cyber hugs along with my thanks for telling be about Pinecraft. I'm including it the book I'm working on now. My editor just gave me the go-ahead.

  56. Debby, these are fantastic tips! I recently found my chapters had way too many pronouns at the beginning of sentences!! Had to vary the structure and use names a little more often.

    This is a great checklist for revising! Thanks for sharing.

  57. Tina,

    Some adverbs work. The problem is when they're used too often.

    You talked about getting your Speedbo story TYPED IN. Did you write it longhand? Surely not. Okay, call me clueless in Atlanta! :)

  58. Yay, Tina!!!

    A box of books. Your own books!!! Woot!

    Take a pic and send it to the weekend edition. We all want to see you holding your "baby!"

    Congrats! This calls for chocolate...Godiva for all.

  59. Sue, thanks for adding your editing tip.

    Sorry I forgot to mention that pesky THAT! I've heard Southern writers use it more often than Northerners. Go figure!

    I always try to delete JUST, unless used in dialogue. Ditto for REALLY and VERY.

    Bravo for the best tip of the day!

  60. Laughing with you, Myra.

    I always have a special word for each book. The word keeps appearing and appearing and appearing...

    Funny, huh? Except when you don't notice the problem.

  61. Debby, you have the kind of smile that makes me smile back. Your tips were very timely for me. I'm doing a self-editing checklist and this adds to it. The second thing I do after checking for hooks is to vary sentence structure and length and over used phrases. Yep,I have a lot of those, and using the question mark with a question, duh. (Hi, Piper!)

    I love murder mysteries and everything set in Atlanta, so put me in for MIA. If you ever have 3 or 4 hours to kill, I'll tell you about my adventures in and around the Atlanta Airport.

  62. Waving to Donna!

    Hope the tips help.

    Short and sweet is good, although a lot of the excerpts were TOO long.


  63. Missy, I am so guilty of the She, She, She syndrome! Changing the print format helps me identify the problem.

  64. Elaine, come to RWA. We can chat. And sip Starbucks...I'll buy.

    Better yet, join us for lunch with Jenny on May 6.

    I'm intrigued. What happened at the ATL Airport? Hmmmm? A murder mystery? Hopefully not.

    But, yes, you're in the drawing!

    And I am smiling back at you! Sending hugs and love too. Plus I pray for Seeker friends each day. Everyone who reads my books too. You're loved and prayed for and part of the Seekerville family.

  65. Waving at cp Elaine!

    Hey what can I say--that's what critique partners are for!

    And hopefully you will meet Debby and some other Seekers at RWA in July. So nice! It is great to meet them in person--they are like rock stars!

    And then we can meet in person too! Lol!


  66. Hi Debbie - yes, back from my travels. It wasn't nearly as exotic as Julie HS's trip to Hawaii, but we had GOOD times with family. You have to cherish those.

  67. This comment has been removed by the author.

  68. This is wonderful! Going to print it out today because I printed out Chapter 1 last night to really start chomping away at the rough I did in Speedbo. Thank you so much for these, Debby! (Oops...used two exclamation points... LOL)

  69. Piper...I'm giggling at your rock star comment.

    We can have a group hug with Elaine at RWA! YAY!

  70. Jan, you went to Amish country. Right? Sounds delightful!

    I'm ready for a trip, however, mine will have to be the grocery store later today. :)

  71. Melanie, exclamation points are always okay in Seekerville!!!

    Typos allowed too!


  72. Debby, I have read this TWICE. Last night and this am. This is immensely helpful for the editing process. THANKYOU.

  73. Hi Debby,
    It's been a while since I've read one of your books and now after I read some of the snippets I am really wondering why. Kick self, kick self. Hope I can catch up soon. wonderful post. Thank you.

  74. All this hard work pays off.

    Congratulations to the FAB FIVE FINALISTS!!!

    Carol James – Heartsongs
    Debra E. Marvin – Safe Harbor
    Susan Anne Mason – Irish Meadows
    Carolyn Miller – Muskoka Blue
    Sara Richardson – The Art of Persuasion

    Thanks to Nancy C for sharing this.

  75. Tina!

    Thanks for the mention on Facebook!


  76. Yeah. Remember. Jenny Blake teaches typo. She is our resident expert. So she can always translate.

  77. Mary, you've made my day.

    THANK YOU!!!

    Actually your comment deserves more than three exclamation points!!!!!!!!


  78. BIG CONGRATS to all our FAB FIVE Finalists!




  79. This is a great checklist, Debby. I'm a detail person, so I look for (and--unfortunately--find) these types of issues in my manuscripts far too often. At least I enjoy line and copy editing. I'm not so hot when it comes to the macro edit, so I'm looking forward to Erica's post as well.

    I enjoyed seeing the name you chose for your Chicago informant in Killer Headline. And you spelled it my way, too. Fun!

  80. Debby, I'm glad you like the fact that there's always so much learn in this writing thing. To me it's a little depressing! LOL! ;-)

  81. I want to just learn it all and be done with it! But that's not how it works!

  82. HI Keli,
    Micro edits always seem easier than macro changes. :)

    I named her after you! :)

  83. Mel, I'm always the slow tortoise trying to catch up. :)


  84. Hi Debby:

    This post offers much more than information on how to macro edit: it’s also a mini workshop on how to write a novel. This makes an ideal preparation before starting to write a novel. I’ve already imported it into my Scrivener Writing Research Project. This includes all pictures and examples. Now anytime I am writing I can popup this post easily from within Scrivener.

    There is one additional point I’d like to mention that comes from my Rewards Per Page project: delight the reader! And do this on the first page.

    Readers often have expectations of experiencing specific types of enjoyment when they select a given theme in a romance. There are parts of themes that readers particularly enjoy. I always look forward to the scene where the hero finally figures out the hidden child is his child. In a MOC there is usually a scene where the wife says to herself: “Now I’m in big trouble, I’ve fallen in love with my husband.”

    The ‘delight the reader’ scene should make the reader think: “Oh my God! I’m going to love reading this!” Delighting the reader can out rank a hook for page turning power. Delighting is more like the irresistible lure of a Siren’s call.

    Below is a good example of delighting a reader who like me wants to read a romance set on a beautiful Greek island.


    Revenge would taste sweet. Yet Stefano Kostapoulos sought no revenge. A sad page of his family's history needed to be turned once and for all. We will forget the past, he vowed as he scanned the one-story brick house hunkered down on a dune facing the Aegean Sea. God, how he hated the old villa that spoiled the beauty of Mykonos Island.

    The wrought-iron gate leading to the dilapidated yard opened. A woman came out, a beach bag in her hand, and closed the gate behind her.

    Unable to believe his eyes, Stefano slapped his open palms on the railing at the bow of his yacht, and leaned forward. No one had stepped into the Pink Villa since his grandmother Elena became so sick four months ago. What was going on here?

    “ I’ll... be... damned.”

    She was a vision. Aphrodite in a green sarong. Her reddish blond hair cascaded down her back in a glorious mane.

    Risk, Mona “Sailing with You”

    A beautiful woman. A Greek island. A beach. A yacht. A mystery. I’m already delighted. This is what I want from this romance. I’m already thinking of ways to make the time so I can read this whole story quickly.

    In writing advertising copy we always try to delight the reader. We can’t always do this but at least we try each time. You can even delight the reader with backstory and description if you do it correctly. A delighted reader is an avid page turner.

    BTW: Debby, I’d love to see you write a comprehensive post like this one on how to write a novella using “Yule Die” as an example. To me that work is the perfect novella.


    P.S. Is the Amish person in your Amish suspense living outside the community? And is there an Amish community near Fort Rickman? We have Amish not far from Tulsa.

  85. Vince, thanks for adding DELIGHT THE READER to our list of editing tips. So important.

    Often we don't think about delight, but even the word fills me with anticipation. Excellent!

    I was hoping you'd stop by today.

    Thanks for the shout out for Yule Die and for the blog topic suggestion.

    The heroine in my current WIP left her Alabama Amish community at age 18. Fast forward ten years to when the story unfolds.

  86. Thanks for the great reminders, Debby as I'm working through some final edits. :)

    Jodie Wolfe

  87. Good luck with the edits, Jodie!

  88. Debby, thank you, sweetie. I can't make it May 6, but am planning to be at the convention for hugs all around.

  89. Yay, Elaine!

    Latte and hugs, for sure!

    Chocolate too.

  90. Great, helpful post today, Debby--thank you sooo much. Reminders that I needed as I edit my SpeedBo manuscript, so very timely! ~ Been gone today (with daughter *smile*) but did manage to bake a Peach Streusel coffee cake for an afternoon snack (goes great with Helen's coffee, for folks like moi who drink coffee 24/7). Enjoy the snack, and thank you again for these awesome editing tips. Hugs, Patti Jo

  91. Debby

    yeah I wrote my story in longhand. I write most of mine that way because I seem to think better. Sometimes I will sit down and type it, but rarely

  92. Fabulous post! Can't wait to go through my ms with this in mind! I'm still in the macro stage, but this post is going in the bookmarks and the "Editing" file on my pc. Thanks, Debby!

    Oh, and P.S. I loved your breakfast menu, especially the grits! :)

  93. Patti Jo, I'm saving your coffee cake until after I go to the gym. What a great incentive to work even harder!

    Thank you, dear friend!

  94. I'm amazed, Tina.

    Lots of work ahead. How long will it take you to type?

  95. Natalie, so glad you're a lover of grits.

    Perhaps a GRITS, as well?


    Is the South home?

  96. Waving to Elizabeth!

    Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. You're in the drawing.

  97. Debby, if I sit diwn and do it, a few days. I just have to get started. I did some if it and got sidetracked on edits. Now I getting ready to do some traveling.

    Oh well

  98. Congrats to my critique mentor who has been readying me for Ruthy--Debra Marvin and Susan Ann and others for the Fab Five Finalists! How fab! Thanks for forwarding, Tina!

    (A lot of exclamation points, but it is exciting)


  99. You must be a speed typist, Tina!

    Have fun on your trip

  100. I agree, Piper. It is so very exciting.

    Good luck to all our finalists!

  101. Congrats to the Fab Five Finalists.

    Looking forward to meeting some of you in Atlanta. I leave in 2 weeks its going fast.

  102. Oh, no...I see me in the "She, she, she or He, He, He problems. I even find myself doing it when I review books. I am aware of it, now I have to correct it. Thank you Debby. Your post has already been printed and placed in my Keeper file.

    Would love to be entered to win one of your books.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

  103. Ah, I just found out about the final in the Fab Five from a Seekerville shout out on FACEBOOK!

    Holy cow! As of dinner time, I had no email or phone call.

    Thanks to Seekerville & Sherrinda for letting me know!

    SO happy for Debra too!


  104. Debby, I am a reader not a writer so only comment I can offer is....I would love to win your book! lol
    Thanks and keep up the great writing!

  105. Susan- that's so strange! I wonder if they left a voice mail on the wrong phone!!
    I got the news by email on Sat? Sun? It's been a long time to wait to see who else finaled (I love seeing names I recognize -- like yours!)

    Congratulations Sue!
    and thank you!

  106. Piper, one year the Seekers did a 'treasure hunt' (Denver ACFW) and we had to search them all out. I only missed one. Ruthy. And she lives an hour away.

    I was stalking Wendy Lawton at the time. The only chance I had to get Camy Tang's stamp for the treasure hunt was to go butt in on a knitting circle with Camy, Wendy and Debbie MacComber. And there I was to see Camy! ha ha. I thought they looked like they could use the down time, so I thanked Wendy and Debbie for allowing my intrusion and slinked away.

  107. Hi Debbie! Great list of edits. I'll have to use it when I'm going back over my current WIP.

    One trick I like to use is when I find a word that I'm repeating too often, I'll use the replace function to replace that word with the same word highlighted. Then I can easily spot the word as I'm editing. When I'm finished with the edits, then I unhighlight the words that are left. I really like using this technique because when I see the same sentences over and over, it's easy to miss the individual words.

    Enjoy the reader's luncheon! (I'm sure you will.)

  108. Great blog, Debby! A writer sure has a lot to remember especially at the beginning of a book. No wonder beginnings are so difficult to write.

  109. The She, She, She problem is easy to fix, Cindy! And we're all guilty. That's why we edit and revise. :)

    You're in the drawing.

  110. We love readers, Jackie!

    You're in the drawing.

  111. This comment has been removed by the author.

  112. Great story, Debra, Lol!

    Glad you found out about it, Sue! Congrats!

  113. What a great collection of tips, Debby. Thank you! The story you write may be good, but it takes careful editing to make it great.


  114. Your post reminded me of a challenge I had in the WIP I submitted to Duel on the Delta. I only had 20 pages and one of the people who read it mentioned that "there's no real description of the heroine." (The hero's thoughts on the heroine occur in the pages immediately after the entry.)

    I added some self-reflection by the heroine by the heroine comparing herself to her best friend. Hope it works.

  115. Wow, an entire writing book tied up in one neat Seekerville package.

    Great stuff, Debby!

  116. Whoo-hoo!!! Congrats to the FAB FIVE finalists!!!

  117. Sending mega congrats to Deb Marvin on the contest final!!! Whoo-hoo!

  118. Yes @Debby: Yes, ma'am. This Mississippi girl is a GRITS. Mom even used to have a sweatshirt embroidered with that acronym, lol. Wore it proudly.

  119. I learned so much here today thank you.

  120. This is an amazing post! Thank you, Debby. : )

  121. This is fantastic, Debby! The excerpts from your books are very beneficial. Thanks!

  122. Still totally convinced that ALL self published writers as well as all writers need to read ALL Seekerville posts, this one included. It would make the selection on books harder as the novels would be higher quality!!!!!! And then in the bio it would need to say so!

  123. Marianne Barkman - I totally agree.
    After all these years of helpful posts, there can't be much missing. Seekerville is an amazing active teaching site and storehouse of knowledge. How else would a bunch of unpubbed writers become a group of super-successful authors with so many releases we can't begin to keep up!

    I probably have a full binder of print outs just from Seekerville posts. I've whittled points down to lists that I use. (ahhh. Lists!)
    But it is always worth a trip through that binder.

    Thanks Debby! I appreciate the shout outs!

  124. I would love to win,Enter me!!!
    Thanks for the giveaway and God Bless!!!
    Sarah Richmond

  125. Oh, Debby, another post to add to my notebook. Such good, clear tips. Thank you!

    Nancy C

  126. Debbie, I found myself mentally checking my wip as I read through this post. I'll have to print it out and actually check it over.