10 DIY EDITING TIPS for a Smoothly Written Ride!—Tip 10

Tip #10—HYPERBOLE & EXAGGERATION

Hyperbole means the writing is exaggerated and vague, and usually lacks specific detail. However, there is a time and a place for hyperbole, especially in fiction. If you are trying to make a point or trying to paint a picture of a character, quoting someone, then it may be useful.

Hyperbole is not meant to be taken literally. Yet, if you are trying to make serious points, hyperbole is can backfire. For the most part, exaggerated words and phrases must go. Scan your writings for words such as very, much, literally, enormous, over, more than, too, quite, extremely, up to, all of, totally, involved, all of us, and such words that overstate the reality. In writing, often, less is more.

Writing Sample #1: Jones explained ideas too enormous to understand, and simplified problems too complex to approach.

REWRITE—Writing Sample #1: Jones explained complicated ideas and simplified complex problems.

Writing Sample #2: The rescue workers, doctors, and various assistants are all heroes because, with the help of God, they managed to save all of the people involved in that accident.

REWRITE—Writing Sample #3: Rescue workers, doctors, and their assistants deserve to be commended, due to the 25 [added detail] lives they saved in the accident.

10 DIY EDITING TIPS for a Smoothly Written Ride!—Tip 9

Tip #9—SLANG, CLICHES & IDIOMS

In your writing, avoid the use of slang or profanity. This is another situation where live and in person slang or profanity has its time and place. However, writing is a more formal and public venue, so in general, best behavioral practices are expected.

Some examples of slang you should avoid are: freaked me out, awesome, “like,” cool, wow, and other types of language, unless you quote someone, or this language belongs to a character in fiction.

Slang includes the use of expressions, idioms, and clichés. These might be confusing to your readers, depending on their age group, or culture. Books are often translated into different languages and the slang does not translate anyway. Keep your writing free from slang, unless you are including slang in the dialogue. Using slang with your own voice is not appropriate. Remove such words as:

Freaked me out, freaked out, pigged-out, awesome, cool, hang out, chill, chilled out, babe, dude, dawg, had a blast, dumped, ex, geek, hooked, looker, sick (as in unbelievable), epic, (unless it really is epic), ripped, (as in intoxicated or muscular), dunno (in place of “I don’t’ know), loser, rip off.

Some clichés or idioms might be:

  • The best of both worlds
  • Once in a blue moon
  • When pigs fly
  • To cost an arm and a leg
  • A piece of cake
  • Let the cat out of the bag
  • To feel under the weather 
  • See eye to eye
  • To cut corners
  • To add insult to injury
  • To kill two birds with one stone
  • At the end of the day
  • To be honest
  • Let’s face it
  • Until the cows come home
  • Avoid like the plague
  • Take the bull by the horns

10 DIY EDITING TIPS for a Smoothly Written Ride!—Tip 8

Tip #8—PASSIVE VERBS

Ugh. This is my Pet Peeve! Passive verbs are those such as: is, was, were, do, did, doing, Search your document for “do”, “did,” “doing,” and other passive verbs to replace them with active verbs, you will improve your writing by fifty percent.

Of course, in cases where you quote a character or source, you will let it go; but in your own writing eliminate passive voice and passive verbs.

Examples of sentences written in the passive voice, created by the use of the word “by” and “ing” words.

Once a week, Alice cleans the house.

Once a week, the house is cleaned by Alice.

Right now, Freda is writing the letter.

Right now, the letter is being written by Freda.

Mike repaired the car.

The car was repaired by Mike.

The clerk was helping the customer when the thief came into the store.

While the clerk helped the customer, the thief came into the store.

Many tourists have visited that castle.

That castle has been visited by many tourists.

10 DIY EDITING TIPS for a Smoothly Written Ride!—Tip 7

Tip #7—REDUNDANT WORDS

Scour your writing piece for redundant phrases. We automatically think that these words will plead our case, when in fact, they weaken the point we want to make. The words below, are just some examples of redundant phrases.

If you will examine these phrases, you will realize that they are saying the same thing twice.

  • Absolutely certain 
  • Actual experience/fact 
  • Add an additional 
  • Added bonus 
  • Advance notice  
  • At the present time 
  • Basic fundamentals 
  • Came at a time when 
  • Close proximity 
  • Written down 
  • Usual custom 
  • Unintended mistake 
  • Unexpected surprise 
  • Therapeutic treatment 
  • Suddenly exploded 
  • Still remains 
  • Spell out in detail 
  • Since the time when 
  • Same identical 
  • Revert back 
  • Repeat again 
  • Protest against 
  • Postpone until later: 
  • Possibly might 
  • Plan ahead 
  • Major breakthrough 
  • Invited guests 
  • Free gift 
  • Forever and ever 
  • Foreign imports 
  • For a number of days 
  • New beginning 
  • Final outcome 
  • Few in number 
  • False pretense 
  • Enter in 
  • End result 
  • Direct confrontation 
  • Difficult dilemma 
  • Definite decision 
  • Consensus of opinion 
  • Collaborate together 

10 DIY EDITING TIPS for a Smoothly Written Ride!—Tip 6

Tip #6—POSSESSIVENESS

Replace the word have, or had—and in ninety percent of the cases, your writing snap will soar. Find more descriptive, active words to replace the word “had” or “have”.

Writing Sample #1: The book had a distinctive and snappy way of keeping kept me on the edge of my seat all the way to the end of it. I stayed up all night long, so I could wait to get to the end of it.

REWRITE—Writing Sample #1: With its distinctive, snappy energy, the book kept me awake all night. The story kept me on the edge of my seat and I could not wait for the end.

10 DIY EDITING TIPS for a Smoothly Written Ride!—Tip 5

Tip #5—PREPOSITIONS & PROPOSITIONAL PHRASES

Prepositions are often awkward, confusing, and redundant. Eliminate most of them, most of the time. Do not end a sentence with a prepositional phrase or a proposition. The word “it” is the most problematic of all.

Ask yourself the question, “Do I make myself clear what “it” is in the sentence?

Pretend you are a reader and are reading the sentence for the first time, and you will find the answer to this question. Sometimes you may find it absolutely necessary, but for 95% of the time, avoid starting a sentence with “it.” “It” is often used as a connector word and becomes a crutch. Think it through…do you really need the word “it” or can you create a more succinct way to say the same thing?

Usually, the word “it” is not helpful to create exciting, engaging writing. Look for other prepositions and prepositional phrases to delete, such as “up” “to me” “end up” “clean up” “to you” “out” “over” “by” “that were” ‘which was,” “by you,” in other words, watch for useless prepositions.

Random Sample from Internet #1:
I hate wet and rainy days.

It rained a lot in 1816… a lot—like every day; the weather in Europe was abnormally wet because it rained in Switzerland on 130 out of the 183 days from April to September. If I was Mary Shelley I might decide to write a book too. After all, it was the only thing you could do without TV or anything. She said that she “passed the summer of 1816 in the environs of Geneva…we occasionally amused ourselves with some German stories of ghosts… These tales excited in us a playful desire of imitation”  So, people were stuck inside and bored. Mary Shelley decided to write a book because it was so awful outside. I can totally see her point, you know? I guess I would write a novel if there was nothing else to do. (141 words)

REWRITE—Sample #1 using 10 DIY Editing Tips:
Wet and rainy days are no fun.

Imagine how slowly time might pass if trapped indoors for 130 days over six months. For many, that is exactly what occurred in 1816 in Geneva, Switzerland, with almost non-stop April-September rainfall. Picture this—those days, TV, phones, Internet, amusement parks, and other entertainment forms were not yet invented.

This half-year inside sentence could feel like solitary confinement.

At first, Author Mary Shelley thought so, too. However, rather than giving into boredom and insanity, she leveraged her warm, dry prison to entertain herself. The result was her first novel! (89 words)

10 DIY EDITING TIPS for a Smoothly Written Ride!—Tip 4

Tip #4—PASSIVE VOICE

Writing Sample #1: There is no worse way to begin a sentence than with the words, “There is.” To create engaging and intriguing writing, do not begin sentences with “there is.” Writing that is riddled with “there is” and “there was” is, (yawn) just plain boring. The writer who writes this way will find his writing to be dull, dry, and dead; and there are few people will want to read it. 

We are going to rewrite that piece in a minute. But first, I want to explain that “there is” or “there was” are written in the passive voice. Anytime you see these words, get your red pen out and slash them. Hit the delete button! Use action verbs to paint the word picture instead of passive connector words. Perhaps you do not understand why your writing lacks the excitement you want. For good writing, replace all the “there is” and “there was” with action words.

REWRITE—Writing Sample #1: I personally know a few exhausted words; and I cannot imagine a weaker way to start a sentence, than with them. These old, worn out words remind me of the dull, dry, lifeless dirt underfoot the killers at a Wild West sundown shoot-out. To write with engaging intrigue, do not begin sentences with “there is/was.” The writer who does so will surely drop dead in the shoot-out of words.

I rewrote the WRITING SAMPLE #1 above to avoid the use of the passive voice. The verb “is” is a connector word and although it is a verb, “is” is not an action verb. Find exciting action verbs to paint a picture when you write. Both sample paragraphs were written above use the same number of words. The easiest way to clean up the passive voice is to rewrite all sentences that use the words, “there is,” or “there was.” This will actually teach you to write in a much more action-packed way.

Writing Sample #2 (Random Sample from the Internet): It had hat shelves and coat racks along both sides. There were double doors leading into the sanctuary, which was plain but neatThere was a carpeted main aisle that ran from the doors to the altar. There were neat rows of oak pews on both sides of the aisle. Secondary aisles ran along both sides of the church between the pews and the windows. On the raised platform in front, there was an altar, a lectern, and behind that were two rows of chairs for the choir. There was a fairly new piano on the left side of the platform… (101 words, pink marks problem areas)

REWRITE—Writing Sample #2: Typical of most church settings, hospitable coat racks and hat shelves lined its entryway. Double doors opened to a rich red-carpeted aisle; and pointed to the sanctuary’s alter. A peaceful ambiance bordered the neat rows of oak pews situated near each side of the main aisle. Secondary aisles framed more pews near the outer side widowed walls. Front in the center, behind the alter—a raised platform holds a lectern, plus a brand new piano sitting left, accompanied by the choir’s seating. (83 words)

10 DIY EDITING TIPS for a Smoothly Written Ride!—Tip 3

Tip #3—LONG SENTENCES

What is a “run-on” sentence? Google thinks more than 20 words is too long. And, in general, if sentences are longer than twelve to twenty words, I suggest doing some magic!

Turn one long sentence into two sentences. To entice people to slow down and read today is a challenge. If they are reading the first sentence of your writing, that is already a coup. Do not send them away. No one wants to travel down your byways and highways of unstructured thought, only to get lost on a dead end street of cluelessness.

A video is just a click away, and they will click, if lost or bored. On the Internet, that is called bounce rate. If writing on the Internet, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) best practices suggest writing to a 7th-grade level. Personally, I like to write and read sentences of twelve words or less.

To make sentences shorter, look for superfluous words that most writers tend to overuse. These words tend to be adjectives or connector words such as very, try to, just, to be, for me, it, any, end up, only, so, many, more, and much.

Sample 1: Try to simplify your writing to make it much more believable. Over exaggeration in writing can end up haveing the very opposite effect intended.

REWRITE—Sample 1: Simplify your writing to boost believability. Exaggeration in your writing can backfire. Less is more. 

To make a long sentence into two sentences find somewhere to end a thought and insert a period. Next, capitalize the first letter of the beginning of the next sentence, and create another thought.

Sample 2: Read about my discovery, and in the light of the new information, learn how to become your own healer and cure your own health problems naturally—I repeat, at no cost! (30 words)

REWRITE—Sample 2: To learn how to become your own healer, this piece shares my new discovery. Read on to cure your own health naturally at no cost. (first sentence 19 words) (second sentence 11 words)

Sample 3: Become your own diagnostician and doctor during these health care crisis times—when you need to take charge of your own health and well-being. (24 words)

REWRITE—Sample 3: With this new discovery, you may be your own diagnostician and doctor! Therefore, during your next health crisis, you can practice affecting your own health and well-being.

10 DIY EDITING TIPS for a Smoothly Written Ride!—Tip 2

Tip #2—CLEAN SWEEP

Contractions: Delete contracted words such as don’t, won’t, can’t it’ll, it’s, and so on. These not only look awkward “in print,” but make for a bumpy ride in the reader’s mind. The best time to use contracted words is for conversation when trying to represent how a character speaks—or just directly quoting someone. These words are fine when we are speaking, but they scream amateur writer and must be removed at all costs.

It is easy and fast to do this clean sweep. Do a search in your document for Apostrophe n’t and apostrophe ‘ll and apostrophe ‘ve. Then delete and replace by spelling both words completely. If you never use contractions, you are “off the hook” on this one! Sometimes it will seem awkward to not use a contraction. If that is the case, throw one in on purpose, now and then again, but do it sparingly, for effect! There now, your writing’s already 10% better.

Spaces: Remove spaces after periods. Before computers, we were all taught in school that proper writing included two blank spaces at the end of every sentence after the period. We may have even found our writing pieces marked down for that. However, since we started writing blogs, magazines, and e-books online, the standard is only one space after the period. When publishing a book for print, our standard is to remove the space, as well, since most of the information in the book will also find its way to online in the form of e-books, Kindle books, or blogs. Be consistent and remove one space after the period in sentences. The writing looks much neater both online and in print with one space after the period at the end of sentences. It is easy. Search for a period followed by two spaces. The replace it with a period followed by one space.

Exclamation Points: Limit your use of exclamation points. Exclamation points on the page visually create an unattractive look and feel; and tend to appear a bit aggressive. Limit your use of exclamation points to one per page, or one per every two pages. Besides cluttering the look of the page, too much use of exclamation points tends to diminish their effect. For the same reason, limit your use of all capitals.

10 DIY EDITING TIPS for a Smoothly Written Ride!—Tip 1

Those who are on the road to the self-publishing journey realize that good editing is essential to make the ride from unpublished to self-published smooth and successful. Problem is, by the time we pay for a top-notch cover design, decent interior layout, and proofreading, we might run low of gas, or, er, uh … funds.Hiring a good editor can be an expensive proposition. And most of us already know that editing and writing are two different functions. We also probably realize that editing or proofreading is difficult to do well without a fresh pair of eyes. In other words, as far as editing goes (proofreading. too) you will want someone else to drive for a while—someone with fresh eyes, and a fresh perspective.

However, consider this. With a quick self-edit, if you are a good writer, you could step on the gas to pass to publishing without the expensive editor. And, if you are not such a skilled writer—at least once you hire an editor, this quick self-edit will save oodles of gas—I mean, editing time. The cost will be less, with the editing much improved.

So here we go with these DIY Tips for Editing to make the ride to published smooth going. Once you know what to do, they are easy, just highlight and delete and you are good to go!


Tip #1—The ING

Verbs ending in ing: When verbs end in “ing,” the writing often takes on a tone of the passive voice. This is not true 100% of the time, but most of the time, the writing piece will snap into shape if you delete verbs ending in “ing.” You will change the verb to the “to be” action form of the word. By doing this, the writing snaps into present tense and sounds more alive.

Writing Sample #1: Rewrite the action as if it is happening now. Bringing the action into the present is key to making your writing compelling.

Writing Sample #2: Rewrite the action as if it happens now. For irresistible writing, bring the action into the present moment.


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