Are you prone to pet words or phrases? In every manuscript I’ve worked on, I’ve invariably found some word or phrase that’s overused by the writer. And, like a verbal tic, they probably didn’t even realise they were doing it!

At the end of every proofread or edit, I create a report to send to the author alongside their corrected proof. The aim is to help them tighten up their work – but it’s just a suggestion, nothing I do to a finished manuscript is ever set in stone and my report can lead to some lively debate!

Not sure what kind of things I mean? Here are a few examples, drawn from past reports to my clients…

  • “You have a tendency to begin a sentence with ‘He/she knew’. The phrase is unnecessary and I’ve removed most of them.”
  • “Characters are very fond of ‘pausing in mid speech’. I’ve removed a lot of these, substituted some and left a few.”
  • “Another tic is ‘making his/her way. Much better to say walked, headed, hurried, strolled etc. I’ve removed most of these, rewritten the majority and left a few.”
  • “The words quite, rather, that, very, just were overused and unnecessary and I removed or replaced quite a few.”
  • “There are a lot of ‘making his ways’. Also a lot of times when thing course through every inch of people’s bodies (adrenaline, fear etc). Without warning is another repeated phrase. On a daily basis is another.”
  • “Cop is overused and I’m not convinced it’s a word suited to a book about a British police force. The word even is also overdone and on most occasions not needed at all.”
  • “Prone to overstatement – such as audible gasp (just gasp) and wig on his head (where else would it be?).”

If you think my experienced eye could help to improve your manuscript, get in touch via the Contact page.