Once you’ve completed your book and performed the last content edit to check for plot holes, flow, punctuation and sentence structure, there’s still one more edit that you should perform prior to publishing your book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Kobo. This absolute last edit before formatting and publishing your book ensures that your sentences are tight and word redundancy is minimal.
1. Find “LY” Words
This check is fairly easy. Open your Find/replace function and type “LY”. Then, click “Find All”. This search finds every word in your manuscript with an “ly”. You really really really really want to reduce this number. LY words are modifiers, and you shouldn’t need many of them, and they can prove to be a distraction to readers. Go through and try and cut this number in half. The only place I don’t tend to remove these is dialogue, but I do try to pull them out of all the text that isn’t dialogue.
2. Find Redundant Phrases
Are you the queen or king of “A moment later” or “After a few seconds”. Every writer has a time designation phrase that they use to move a scene forward or indicate the next action is about to happen. However, if you use this every other paragraph, it loses meaning and has the ability to become invisible or annoying to the reader. Search for and identify overused phrases. Once you find them, either change them or delete them. A lot of times, once the entire novel text is in, you don’t need them.
3. Find That Word You Overused
Every novel has a word that is so overused it’s meaningless and/or hilarious. You might find it funny that you’ve used “grins” or “smiled” or “sat down” 1,000 times, but if you leave that in, your reader may not find it so funny. This is an unintentional mistake that most writers make, and every book has at least one extremely overused word. Locate that word, find it and replace it or delete it.
4. Get Rid of Dialogue Beats That Aren’t Said or Asked
I know what you’re about to say. Said and asked are boring. They do nothing. They don’t help describe anything. I get it, and 60 to 70 years ago, dialogue beats included:
These are no longer popular and are considered bad form in modern writing. While you can have a couple of these in every novel to add emphasis to important dialogue, 99 percent of them should be removed. Dialogue beats should be invisible to the reader. If you have to perform an action, it’s much better to write it:
“I’m not going over there!” Bob said as he turned and stomped away from the rest of the group.
“I’m not going over there!” Bob turned and stomped away from the rest of the group.
“I’m not going over there!” Bob yelled as he stomped his way away from the group.
“I hate that idea,” Bob sighed. (How do you sigh a sentence? Try it. Can you physically do it?) What you really mean is: “I hate that idea,” Bob said. He sighed.
5. Get Rid of Your Double Spaces
You will thank yourself greatly when you go to format for book. When pages are justified those double spaces become massive and have the ability to throw off the flow of the sentences. You can actually find and replace double spaces with single spaces using the Find/Replace function. Just enter “. “ and replace with “. “ So that for all the punctuation you used. It’ll take about 10 minutes, and you’ll end up with a better formatted end result.
6. Run Your Manuscript Through Grammarly
I’m not kidding. Run your entire 40,000, 60,000 or 80,000 word manuscript through grammarly. It won’t catch every single error, but it will catch the worst errors that your last two edits didn’t catch. By the time you are done with this, your entire manuscript should have like four typos. At that point, you are better proofread than most traditionally published books.