Other Common Errors
No editing exercise would be complete without a thorough search for misused words.
Here are some examples:
Insure. Assure. Ensure. These words are often misused.
Webster's Collegiate Dictionary says, "In many ways, insure, ensure and assure are interchangeable, but ensure may imply a virtual guarantee, while insure sometimes stresses taking careful measures beforehand… and assure distinctly implies the removal of doubt and suspense from a person's mind."
Other problem words: lead, led; reign, rein, rain; loose, lose; sit, sat; lie, lay
When making a comparison, use than, not then. He looked older than the hills.
Its or it's? If the sentence make sense when its is replaced with it is, the word you've used needs an apostrophe.
Unnecessary words: over, under, back, up, down, began, started
Useless and overused words: little, nice, nodded, pretty, quite, really, said, fact, big, somewhat, that, very.
Watch for redundant words like a brief glance or brief synopsis. A glance and a synopsis are always brief.
The echo resounded through the canyon.
He followed behind.
She murmured softly.
He circled around.
Each individual one looked round.
Over used phrases: Just this once let me decide. Instead, write: Let me decide.Back, as in: revert back, reply back, refer back, retreat back. Instead, write: He retreated.
Just this once let me decide.
Instead, write: Let me decide.
The book was brought by David. (passive) Instead, write: David brought the book.
Do your fingers sometimes have a mind of their own? Does your little finger get lazy and not type the last letter of a word? Spell checker won't always catch these. I'm forever typing on when I meant to type one, and he for her. I named the hero in my current WIP Buck, but all week I've been typing Buick.
One final example of how to use the list:
FIND the first use of the word too in your manuscript and ask yourself should that too be set off with commas? Or should you have used to instead?
I don't know how many times I've found a misused word by doing the following:
Read your manuscript as if for the first time, a reader enjoying a good read. Mark anything that pulls you out of the story for rewrite later.
Read through again keeping an eye out for duplicated words, missing words and missing quotes.
Identify all places where subject and verb do not agree.
Are you prone to slip into present tense? Correct those.
After this final polish, send your manuscript to a Beta reader. Always rely on another pair of eyes.
Now that you've finished reading this, print out all five of these blogs, the list you requested of Toni's Search Words, and get to work using the FIND command in your word processor.
And if you haven't already, here's where to request the list of Toni's Search Words:
While there, check out my latest release, Law Breakers and Love Makers, a romantic suspense available now for download from Desert Breeze Publishing.