My Nifty Nine Editing Check List

Posted on Dec 14, 2017 by   13 Comments | Posted in Blog

by Mary Marvella

I killed my adverbs and read my story three times. So it’s ready, right?

I hear questions like this often. Most manuscripts I get to edit contain errors an author could correct. Don’t kill all of any type of word just to be doing it. Don’t kill every was or so, either. Don’t change every sentence you thing might be passive voice. Don’t follow arbitrary words that involve deleting perfectly good writing tools.

This list can make editing and looking for errors easier than just reading it 3 times with no direction.

Nifty Nine List for Editing a Manuscript.

  1. Be prepared for more than one round of edits. MAKE TIME!
  2. Read each sentence out loud, word for word.  MAKE TIME!
  3. Look for its and it’s, your and you’re, and there, they’re, and their.

Read it is each time you see it’s. Read they are each time you see they’re. Read you are for you’re. You can catch errors that way!

  1. Check dialogue punctuation.
  2. Nouns of address require commas before and after them.  Where are you going, young man? Where, young man, are you going?  Young man, where are you going? Young man is the noun of address. If addressing parents– I want to go, Mom.  Please come with me, Dad.
  3. Too and to.   Too means also or in excess. He was too tall for the car. He wanted pie, too. When too means also, you need a comma. Check also, too. I’ll have a burger and a sandwich, also.
  4. In, into, on, and onto.  You run into the house, but you shouldn’t run in the house. (Once you get inside, stop running.)  The dog jumped onto the couch.  Jay got into trouble for jumping on the bed. (He was already on the bed when he started jumping.) INTO and ONTO suggest location changes. IN and ON don’t.
  5. Connect independent clauses with and , or, and but AND A COMMA.  I found the answers, I shared them. (NOPE, 2 sentences or add and after the comma. I found the answers, and I shared them.  I found the answers. I shared them.
  6. Use italics to show internal dialogue only if it what a character would say if he spoke the words. He wondered where his sister was. HE WOULD NOT SAY THESE WORDS. Where can my sister be? HE WOULD SAY THESE WORDS OUT LOUD. HE MIGHT BE TALKING TO HIMSELF, MUMBLING OR SPEAKING. 
  7. Ask questions in the comments!

The Cost of Deception:
The Cost of Deception is a romantic suspense. Tess is a widowed mother and a teacher. She has been so wrapped in in her role as a mother that she has forgotten how it feels to be a desirable woman. Attending her 20-year high school class reunion, the first she’s ever attended, changes that when she meets Drew.

Drew is now an undercover cop in Atlanta, GA. During his years in the military he had no concerns about marriage and starting his own family. His life put him in danger and he liked things that way. He was no longer the nerd who had attended Georgia Tech. Seeing Tess at the class reunion made him rethink what he really wanted. She loves her children more than anything else. He doesn’t know how to make his career work with the things Tess and her kids make him want. Yes, there will be hot sex and danger will stalk her family. 


Mary Marvella has been telling stories since she was a kid making up games for her friends to play or telling stories to keep from going to bed. Mary taught language arts for 15 years and now tutors one-on-one, even editing research papers. She had published 9 books and stories in 8 anthologies.  


13 Responses to "My Nifty Nine Editing Check List"

  1. Comment by marymarvella
    December 14, 2017 1:34 pm

    Thanks for posting this! I will be glad to asnwer editing questions. Just ask!

  2. Comment by marymarvella
    December 14, 2017 1:39 pm

    Nancy, thanks for having me here!

    • Comment by Nancy Lee Badger
      December 14, 2017 2:39 pm

      As Chair Person for the FF&P Blog, let me thank you for stopping by to share your writing tips with our readers.

  3. Comment by Sorchia D
    December 14, 2017 4:07 pm

    Greetings, Fellow Language Arts teacher! As I read your post, I knew you had done your time in the classroom. Great tips with nice, clear explanations. I taught English for over 25 years but I still NEED an editor. Everyone NEEDS an editor–this is a point that must be made. Self-Editing is also an essential step, and your tips are definitely things to add to the list. As I read a novel, only a few editing errors will make me drop the book in disgust–run-on sentences and comma splices get to me. Are there any grammar or punctuation errors that can kill your enjoyment of an otherwise good book?

    • Comment by marymarvella
      December 14, 2017 10:50 pm

      Sorchia, I’ll address that tomorrow. I want to do a good job!

    • Comment by marymarvella
      December 14, 2017 10:57 pm

      Actually, I hate commas replacing that. He knew that she was his enemy. PLEASE! No comma to replace that. It would separate the subject and verb from the direct object.He knew she was his enemy Editors who miss wrong words. I caught a shown for the sun shining The shone! Subject-verb agreement is important but difficult for folks who can’t tell which word is the subject. A comma before or after the but would make me shutter. Snicker! Shudder!

  4. Comment by Melba
    December 15, 2017 1:07 am

    Going to print this one out and put it beside my computer! Yep, it is that important.

  5. Comment by Jacqueline Seewald
    December 15, 2017 4:57 am

    As a former English teacher, I consider myself good at grammar. However, when I edit my work, I always seem to find errors that need correction. I think you offer excellent advice.

  6. Comment by Nancy Northcott
    December 15, 2017 6:17 am

    Mary, these are all great tips. Very logical, too!

  7. Comment by Vonnie Hughes
    December 19, 2017 9:07 pm

    Excellent advice.

    • Comment by marymarvella
      January 5, 2018 6:38 am

      Vonnie, I’m glad you liked this article. I hope 2018 is treating you well, so far!

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