Skinning the Onion: A Layered Editing Checklist/Layer Two: Middle

Skinning the Onion

Editing Series

 In this series, there are four levels. This is the second post in the series. We’ve already covered BASIC. If you missed it, find it here. Skinning the Onion Basic.

Remember, everyone’s style is different. Respect that. Don’t force your voice on someone else.

Encourage your critique partners to strengthen their writing.

Now let’s move on to the next layer.

Editing Ideas: Middle

If you edit and critique with others, making shortened edit notes can be helpful for you and for them.

Circle, mark, and jot comments on the following. Offer suggestions, but leave it up to the author to change their own work.

POWER VERBS: Circle weak verbs, suggest stronger verbs

SPECIFIC WORDS: Use specific words to paint a better image. Oak vs. tree.

FILTER WORDS: watched, saw, felt, looked, studied, seemed

DIALOGUE: Has to move the story forward, give new information, or reveal your character.

PARAGRAPH OPENING REPETITION: Do the paragraphs all begin the same way?

REPETITION OF SENTENCE STRUCTURE: Vary short with medium and long. Use different openers.

LONG SENTENCES: Don’t cram too much information into one sentence.

BE CLEAR: Tell exactly what you mean—don’t make the reader guess where someone’s standing or who’s talking.

HEAD HOPPING: Are you staying behind the same set of eyes for the entire scene?

If you are just getting started, and for a more in-depth look at what these things are, visit my Common Writing Pitfalls series.


  1. Great comments. I will print out and keep in my editing notebook.

  2. EXCELLENT pointers, Lori.

    If I overstep my boundaries when line-editing, feel free to smack me with an onion.

    I prefer red.

  3. I love all those posts. I’ve heard all these at one time, but my leaky brain needs reminders. Thanks!

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