I think of this step as editing needed to speed up the copy editing process once my manuscript reaches the hands of a copy editor. Never depend on an overworked copy editor to catch your mistakes. That is your job. Set aside a full month to do the job right. During that time, you'll need to carefully read through your manuscript at least four more times.
Rule of thumb: No more than three adverbs to a page, so using the FIND command, type ly(space) in the FIND box. This will identify all words ending in ly. Count the adverbs found of the first page of your search. Eliminate all unnecessary ones, leaving no more than three to a page. You'll be surprised how much your writing improves when you adopt this rule as your own.
The same goes for adjectives. Never type a string of adjectives. Replace the string with a single adjective that best describes the character or room you want described and see how much tighter your writing becomes.
Eliminate all the thats you can. And use very only in dialogue. This words adds nothing to your writing.
Word processors are a godsend, but may also cause mistakes. In the late 1990's Writer's Digest Magazine ran an article about the pitfalls of using a word processor. The cut and paste command opened the floodgates to numerous mistakes. A word left in earmarked for deletion. Entire paragraphs repeated. Edited sentences that now make no sense.
Fast forward ten plus years and try counting all the word processing errors you find on the front page of the Sunday paper. Unforgivable. Why is it writers are so quick to hit SEND when an overlooked typo in print becomes a glaring error visible for all eternity?
The same goes for manuscripts. Strive to submit the most polished manuscript you can. To do this I rely on a copy of Toni's Search Words. On it I've listed all my common mistakes. It takes me a good three days to use the FIND command in WORD and search for every use of a listed word on my list, make the needed changes to my manuscript and check that word off my list. This list contains words often misused, mistakes common to me, passive and telling words, and words too frequently used.
Here are some other problem words to watch for:
Since- Use when time is involved, not sense
Because - Use when a reason is given.
Sit- to rest
Set- to put
Lie- to recline or rest
Lay - to put or place
Lead Careful here, the past tense of the verb lead is led, not lead, which is a noun, a metal element.
Then - an adverb relating to time.
Than - a conjunction used when comparing things, often mistakenly replace by then.
Their, there, they're
To, too, two
Farther - actual distance
Further - figurative distance
Affect - influence
Effect - to bring about an outcome
Type as in the FIND box and watch for these:
as if - Use only when something is unrealistic..
as though - Use when something is possible.
Another caution about using as: It is too easy for a writer to get the reaction ahead of the action, so carefully watch for this as you edit.
Example: Sarah jumped as the door slammed.
One possible fix: The door slammed. Sarah jumped.
Also watch for instances where as is used connecting two simultaneous actions that could not possibly be accomplished at the same time.
Example: As John walked across the room he closed the door with his foot.
One possible fix: John hurried across the room, then closed the door with his foot.
Here's how to request the list of Toni's Search Words:
Go to http://www.toninoelauthor.com/
E-mail your request. I'll attach the list to my reply. And there, check out my latest release, Law Breakers and Love Makers, a romantic suspense available now for download from Desert Breeze Publishing.