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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