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My Editing Glossary

Use it or Lose It: A moment in your manuscript seems superfluous and takes up room for no apparent reason. Either make it work or get rid of it.

On the Nose: Dialogue is inorganic and too pointed. 

Inner Dialogue: Wouldn’t the character be having some inner reflection here? Some thoughts and feelings about what is going on? Write between the lines; allow your character (and the reader!) some small moments of reflection.

Said/Asked Alert: When attributing dialogue, you can be much more creative than “said,” or “asked,” or any of the multitudinous substitutions for those. Here is a handy list of alternatives for “said.”

Dialogue/Action Alert: Remember to use actions and body language when characters speak. They are not on the stage of a play. Make it real, and let actions speak.  Instead of: “Get out of here,” he said – try: ‘He stared at me coldly. “Get out of here.”’ Or ‘She downed the rest of her whiskey. ‘I never loved him.’” Mix it up. Give characters actions – readers are smart enough to get that the character “said” their dialogue.

Show Don’t Tell:  The way you are conveying information is too wordy. Let actions, gestures, emotions, and even props do some of the work for you to make this moment more immersive and cinematic. (Props: wine goblet, the wind, a tree, a cat, a car – something physical in the scene) Internalize this wonderful quote by Anton Chekhov: “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint in the broken glass.”  

Lined Out Text: This text is superfluous. Try reading it with the extra, unnecessary text left out.

Conscious Choice? Have you made a word, phrase, or description choice consciously? You may be implying something that you did not intend.

Global Note: Please make this change over the entire manuscript. Not just this page, or this chapter, but everywhere. This might be a style issue, an inconsistency, or the consistent misuse of a word, etc.

Repeated: You are repeating a word or phrase and are not aware of it. It happens to the best of us. Use your search function to search for and replace all instances of this repeat.

Word Salad: This sentence, paragraph, or section of your manuscript is overly complex and confusing. Simplify.

Subtext/Easter Eggs: Subtext by way of symbolism or “easter eggs” as they are sometimes called, would make this sentence, paragraph, or scene much more powerful.

Bounce: The reader could be “bounced” out of the story by using a jarring word, image or non-sequitur. Double-check that this is a conscious choice and it if is, if it’s the best choice here.

Subjective Note: This word, phrase, technique or other aspect of your manuscript could be problematic for readers. Take that under advisement and use your personal taste or other feedback to decide.

Objective Note: This is an error or fact that is objectively incorrect. You must pay attention to this note.

Suggest: Something needs to change, and here’s what I suggest. Your creative license comes first but you are free to use my suggested fix.


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