Checklist for Copyediting your Manuscript

Jessica Page Morrell’s Thanks but this Isn’t for Us book includes some of the best, brief checklists I’ve seen around.  Check the prior two posts (Tuesday and Wednesday) for the first and second round editing lists.  Today we’re on to those pesky details.

Morrell considered this the third-round checklist:

1.  is your opening perfect?  are the first paragraphs memorable?

2.  does every word and sentence have a purpose?

3.  does the dialogue need tags so we know who’s speaking?

4.  in the dialogue are characters’ names repeated often?  (this is a no-no)

5.  is the dialogue written without any visual cues, such as gestures or expression to help with context?

6.  have you used figurative language to create layers of meaning?

7.  have you repeated words, phrases, or images?

8.  is there a mix of sentence lengths?

9.  do our setting details, especially weather, create a mood?

10.  have you used all the senses, including smell, throughout the story?

11  have you sometimes used short sentences and fragments for emphasis?

12.  have you placed emphatic words at the end of sentences, paragraphs, and sections?

13.  have you revamped dull verbs (get, got, look, see, walk, put), passive linking verbs (have, had, has, would, could, should, will, do, be, been, were, was), and passive structures?

14.  have you spotted and corrected cliches, tired phrases, and overused phrases?

15.  can you justify each modifier, and have you trimmed unnecessary prepositional phrases?

16.  can you justify each modifier, and have you trimmed unnecessary prepositional phrases?

17.  is the dialogue punctuated correctly?

18.  have you exchanged long, formal words for short, simple words?

pg. 280-281

That’s it, folks.  The last of the checklists from Morrell.  I’ve interlibrary loaned a couple of her other books and when they get here, I’ll give you the low-down on them, too.  Unless you have thoughts, checklists, etc. in the meantime to share . . .

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