Post series: My Personal Peeves as an Editor

My Personal Peeves as an Editor, Part Two

  1. My Personal Peeves as an Editor, Part One
  2. My Personal Peeves as an Editor, Part Two

You can read part 1 right here!

Thanks again, Stuart Conover, for giving me an opportunity to actually WRITE instead of EDIT for a change.


At the risk of providing enough Author PSAs to eliminate myself from the editing process, I am expanding on my personal peeves.

The only words in any of my lists are ones that I see over and over again, and which now make me cringe when I see them, particularly when they are repeated throughout a manuscript.

Actually: This word actually has a place, just don’t actually overdo it.

Almost: Almost as annoying as “just” and “as”, “almost” is one of those words that is almost never necessary, especially when you use it almost to death.

Continued/Continuing/Continues:  When you continue to use this word, you continue to sound like you don’t know what to say. Another word that DOES have its place, when you continually continue to overuse it, you continue to ignore the other possible words you could use instead.

Felt/Heard/Saw:  Passive, passive, passive.  “He felt his face flush.”  “She heard herself say she was sorry.”  (What the what??)  “He saw she was following him.”

Nearly: See “almost”.  Nearly the same thing.

Small: This is a recent addition.  Not quite sure why it has surged in popularity/invisible usage so much, but it is annoying.  Search your WIP.  Delete most of them.

Watch/Watched:  You want to make me hurl?  Write “He/She watched as….”  That uses watch AND as, another peeve.  Guaranteed head explosion.

Open your WIPs, search for the words, rewrite, delete, or replace as many usages as you can.

Carry on, y’all.  Carry on.  Write your books. I call editor.  🙂

My Personal Peeves as an Editor, Part One

  1. My Personal Peeves as an Editor, Part One
  2. My Personal Peeves as an Editor, Part Two

In my career as a freelance editor, I have edited over three hundred books.  This does not include any editing performed in my former career as a legal assistant, or as the manager of a speaker’s bureau back in the days of pre-networked computers and printers where I had to type something, save it to a floppy disk, take it to a different computer to print, and God help me if there was a typo.  With all those words read, dissected, and edited, I have honed my craft.  I have also identified the things that annoy me most in someone’s writing.  At this point, I’ve pretty much seen it all.  With that said, I give you this list, Part One of my most annoying personal peeves as an editor.


As if/As though*:  As if writing a book isn’t hard enough, don’t write as though you don’t know what you’re doing; it makes you sound as if you’re trying too hard.


These DO have their place, and are a legitimate device.  Don’t overdo it, though.


As:  I. Can’t. Even.  Please see message below from my Judgy McJudgerson Bitstrips alter ego.


Began: As I began to write this, I began to think about the words that annoyed me the most.  As I began contemplating these words, I began to get annoyed all over again, and as I began to grind my teeth, the irony hit me hard.


Before: I woke up this morning before I had my first cup of coffee, and sat down to write this before I began to think about the editing issues that annoy me most.  Before I chose the ones I would include in this Part One editing peeves paper, I began to suspect that I sounded like Judgy McJudgerson before I toned it down a little.


But: Y’all writer’s like big “buts” and you cannot lie.


Nod/shake/smile/sigh:  Which includes: nodded, nods, nodding, shook, shakes, shaking, smiled, smiles, smiling, sighed, sighing.  Oy…some of you?  It’s like your characters have palsy with all the nodding and sighing and smiling and shaking of heads:


“He sighed and nodded, shaking his head at the irony with a smile.”

“He smiled, nodding his agreement with a heavy sigh, then shook his head.”

“She shook her head.  After nodding her agreement, she said with a smile, ‘I am so tired,’ she sighed.”


Just: Just open your WIP right this very second and just delete just about any “just” you find.  I believe you’ll discover the word usually is just not necessary.


Oh…and this:


Seem: It seems that writers who use the word seem a lot seem to be unsure what they are seemingly trying to say.  It can bog down your writing and make it seem like it’s seemingly pretty abstract.


Very:  See above re “just”.  Same principles.  Very often when “very” is used, it’s a word used to fill a very small space, and very frequently is just not very necessary at all.


Felicia will return soon with more of “My Personal Peeves as an Editor”

Felicia A. Sullivan is a popular indie editor, who has edited over three hundred books in various genres.  Don’t let her book list scare you.  Though there are quite a few books with “Dead” in the title, containing zombies, vampires and various other monsters, she is perfectly at ease editing your romance, sci-fi, fantasy, or any genre, including non-fiction!

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