About The Author

Katie Salidas is a USA Today bestselling author and RONE award winner known for her unique genre-blending style.

Since 2010 she's penned five bestselling book series: the Immortalis, Olde Town Pack, Little Werewolf, Chronicles of the Uprising, and the all-new Agents of A.S.S.E.T. series. As her not-so-secret alter ego, Rozlyn Sparks, she is a USA Today bestselling author of romance with a naughty side.

In her spare time Katie also produces and hosts a YouTube talk show; Spilling Ink. She also has a regular column on First Comics News where she explores writing from a nerdy perspective.

Self-Editing Tips and Tricks. Cut these words from your manuscript!

We all hate revising but it is a chore that has to be done before a book can be published. One of the spot checks I do at the very end of my revision phase is to seek and destroy bloat words, lazy modifiers, extraneous dialogue tags, and unnecessary filter words.


 These are the words we toss into our sentences that bring nothing to the table. Like a bad penny they just keep showing up, and add no real value to the story, its characters, or the pacing. In other words, they have no need to be in the sentence. And the majority of the time, when you delete them, the sentence doesn’t even miss them.

 Using the search/find option in your word processing program, look for the following words. You can either target (highlight) them for destruction as you re-read the draft from start to finish, or you can destroy them as you find them (if you’re feeling a little frisky).

 Rule of thumb: If the sentence still makes sense without these words, remove them!



Other than in dialogue (where a character’s voice may require its use), cut all uses of this word. It can be deleted without changing the sentence structure or meaning.

Now, before you start with the, “But it’s an intensifying word,” crap. Let me tell you. Just like its friend, very, (which we will get to in a minute) really, is a really lazy modifier. If you really need to add some intensity, find a stronger word!

What To Do: Delete!


You don’t really need this word. I doesn’t really add to the sentence.

You don’t need this word. It doesn’t add to the sentence.



Other than in dialogue (where a character’s voice may require its use), cut all uses of this word. It can be deleted without changing the sentence structure or meaning.

What To Do: Delete!


She just wanted to check on her son.

She wanted to check on her son.


If they could just get there in time….

If they could get there in time….



This is a sequencing word. Unless you need to specify a secret plan, and the order of events that must happen, there is no need to spell out the sequence events in a story. This is because your reader is experiencing the sequence as they read it.

What To Do: Delete!


He threw a punch and then ducked…

He threw a punch and ducked.


Sudden (suddenly)

You remove all the drama when you spoon-feed your readers. If something is suddenly happening, it is happening in real time in the story; readers will know this event is sudden. Telling your audience something suddenly happened, is a form of… That’s right, telling (big no-no), which takes away the impact of this new development.

 What To Do: Delete!


START (started, starting) BEGIN (began, begun, beginning)

Again, things are happening for your reader in real time. If something is happening, no need to outline that it has started. It is happening.

What To Do: Delete and slightly restructure the sentence.


The boy started to cry.

The boy cried.


Even better.


A fat tear streamed down the boy’s face.



I began to drive home.

I drove home.


Even better.


I twisted the key in the ignition and the car roared to life. Without a look back, I hit the road; homeward bound.



These are redundant movement words. We know if you are sitting, you are down. Same applies if you are standing. We know you are up. No need to add the extra modifier unless you are in an upside down world where things are not as they seem.


What To Do: Delete (But only when referencing redundant motions)!



You can save words by using more descriptive ones. Seek and Destroy!!



Very is probably the worst offenders when it comes to the lazy modifier. And why? There are so many more creative words we could use instead.



Are you very happy to be here?

Are you elated (ecstatic or joyful) to be here?



I am very annoyed with you right now.

I am aggravated with you right now.


What To Do: Find A Stronger Word!



If two characters are having a conversation, you may be tempted to tag each one’s speech. He said, she said, and so on… But when the conversation is flowing naturally, there is no need to specify so frequently when each one is talking. Yes, some tags are needed to maintain the flow after a few back and forth exchanges, but you do not have to tag each line. That can cut a lot of extra bloat words from your manuscript.


Also, keep in mind that not all dialogue needs to be tagged. If your characters are actively moving through a scene, you can insert their dialogue into the action creating natural beats that do not require specific tagging.



“I want you to pay attention to the flow of dialogue here,” Mrs. Salidas said to the class. “Can anyone here tell me who is speaking?”

Jason lifted his hand. “You are!”

“Very good. Two points for you. What you just showed us was how action can replace a dialogue tag in two-person conversations.”

“But what happens when there are more than two people speaking?”

“When more than two people are speaking it becomes necessary to tag each line of dialogue with either an action beat, or using a said tag for that character. But as long as it is just you and I in this conversation, and the flow is not interrupted, we can avoid overusing tags.”

“Wow! Thanks for that tip!”

You see here how each line flows once the speaker is established? Not every line needs that tag. Cutting the excess can help you save words.

 What To Do: Trim Out Excess Tags!



These take us out of actually experiencing what the POV character is experiencing, by telling us what we should be experiencing.


Think (thought, thinking)

Feel (felt, feeling)

Hear (heard, hearing)

Look (looked, looking)

Know (knew, knowing)


What To Do: Restructure Sentences!



She felt the cold breeze.

Cold air danced across her skin.


She thought she saw something.

Something dark and shadowy streaked across the edge of her vision.


She heard the sound of footsteps approaching.

The staccato clip-clop of Nancy’s high-heeled shoes announced her presence.

This is not the end-all-be-all list for editing out words, but using what you have here will get you a leg up on your next round of revisions. Happy editing.