Great idea from SS@S - I'm posting my editing checklist here. This is the general version, if I'm writing in dialect I have a few more things I need to check, but this is the one I go through pretty much all the time. I'm more guilty of some things than others - to take the first list of non-words, for example, I don't think I ever use ''quite", but all my manuscripts are scattered with "just"!
If you have a similar list, please post it in the comments, or let me know if there is anything you think is missing, then I'll try and put together a version that combines everything. Or, if you strongly disagree with anything, I'd be interested in knowing that too. NB - some of these words and phrases are essential at times - don't take 'em out if it don't make sense or it really is the best option - on the other hand, coming up with alternatives for your own 'automatic drive' can liven up your writing - and cut literally thousands of words of unnecessary padding out of your writing.
Delete that and very! Strip out: really, all, big, little, small, many, some, here, a lot, just, quite, yes, no, a bit, now, maybe.
Take ‘suddenly’ out of all narrative; and ‘for a moment’ everywhere.
Waste of space: especially, however, probably, thankfully, so, of course, in fact, anyway (as a transition rather than a modifier), rather, somewhat, all too often, after all, only, obviously, usually, at least, even so, no idea, for some reason.
Beware of words that don't mean much: seem/ed to be, appear/ed to be, really, actually, keep/kept on, almost, have/had to, go and/went and, used to, finally, eventually. Use punchier verbs.
Watch for ‘something’, ‘everything’ and ‘thing’!
Delete ‘was’/’is’ ‘were’/’are’ and replace with a strong action verb.
Delete adverbs –ly – use very sparingly.
Drop parentheses and excessive ellipses (…)
Close third person - watch out for verbs that distance the POV from close third person – viewpoint intrusion - e.g. ‘hear’/’heard’, ‘see’/’saw’, ‘notice’/’noticed’, ‘look’/’looked’ – ‘feel/felt’ – ‘watch/watched’ look out for ‘could’ – it often signals these. i.e. not ‘I could see the clouds…’ but ‘The clouds…’ NB also – ‘She looked sad’ – why? Better to show this – ‘tears glinted in her eyes’ etc.
Close third person again - also watch out for ‘thought’ – it may not be necessary. Use only if confusing. Report thoughts as if in the first person – use the character’s voice/tone etc. to make it clear that they are thoughts. (e.g. whiney, if a whine!) Also: realised, decided, supposed, remembered, contemplated, mused, guessed, imagined, figured, reckoned etc. Similarly ‘wondered’ (try turning the thought into a question).
Telling instead of showing: look out for ‘like’, ‘as if’ and ‘seemed’ i.e. ‘the puppy seemed afraid’ – show it ‘the puppy quivered in his arms’
Delete ‘began’, ‘started’, ‘was starting’, ‘was beginning’, ‘going to’ unless essential – distances from the action e.g. ‘she began to do s’th’ – just have her do it!
Are all five senses in use? (colour code description according to sense to check the balance).
Go back and delete all clichés.
Look out for –ing words – e.g. is someone locking the door while sprinting? Is it possible?! Check all very carefully.
Proofread for repeated words – e.g. stop/stopped.
Delete ‘he said’ ‘she said’ as far as possible. Show who is speaking via action instead.
There was, there is, there are, there were, it was, it is are often superfluous. Toss them if you can.
F&R while and as if they make dialogue tags work overtime – e.g. Not: ‘Are you coming?’ said Jennifer as she climbed the fence, but: Jennifer swung a leg over the fence. ‘Are you coming?’
Also dialog, ‘No,’ Jim said, rather than ‘No,’ said Jim.
Watch for too many sentences starting with ‘he’/’she’/’they’ and repeated names.
F&R double spaces.