Monday, 17 December 2012

15 Things to Think About When Editing

Because I find it so easy to get lost in my writing, especially when I'm editing it for the seventeenth time and the meaning of the words don't even make sense any more (time to put it to one side I think), I like to use a checklist of the fifteen things that can often escape my attention. It offers me a modicum of objectivity about my work when I need it most.  

My checklist changes as I get more comfortable with each point on the list. However, as of today, this is my list: 

Writing Checklist

1) Are the five senses included in the descriptions?
2) Am I showing the reader the story rather than telling them it?
3) Character development - How has the character been changed by the story?
4) Is there enough description of both the physical environment and the characters?
5) Unique character traits - What traits are unique to each character and how do I show this in their behaviour / speech?
6) Is there enough conflict? Is the main character being challenged enough?
7) Are there enough moments in the story? (Character interaction and events).
8) Is it too verbose? Only leave what's necessary.
9) Avoid passive voice where possible.
10) Keep the tense consistent.
11) Keep POV character consistent - If it changes, make sure it's signposted.
12) Is the back story necessary, and if so, only do as much as is needed.
13) Does the theme need to be stronger? Do I need more symbolism?
14) Is the main character being challenged?
15) Am I clearly showing my character's motivation? What do they want?

I have pieced this list together from all of the information I have read or heard about writing. This list is very specific to me, so I'm sure that some of the points on here happen naturally for many writers, but i like to remind myself of these in particular. 

I try to keep the list to no more than fifteen items because otherwise it can be too overwhelming and it loses it's effectiveness. Fifteen works for me.


  1. I like this. It's clean and clear and something that I can easily refer to when I'm editing. This is a great tool. Thank you so much for sharing.

  2. This is interesting and I'd say you're about right. I am already published but wish I'd had this list. I also blog about getting published which you may care to look at on Would be glad of comments please! Meanwhile Merry Christmas. Catherine Broughton