Strategies to copy edit

I’ve been following the blog Writer Dissection, and I’m finding the advice fairly well-thought out and useful. The author, Alissa Berger, has a lot to say on topics such as characterization and editing, and she provides many useful resources.

Here’s a nice post from her about some of the tricks used in cleaning up your writing work for submission:


If I were a pathological liar, I would tell you that copy editing is when you clone yourself, manipulate your genetics, then step back and see the effect it has on your double. But, I’m not. And we’re not even up to that point yet (i.e. cloning humans). But, you should still know how to copy edit.

Strategy #1 CUPS!

CUPS is an acronym that goes like this:

C – capitalization

U – usage

P – punctuation

S – spelling

This method encourages a series of passes rather than edits by the reader, and usually works by writing CUPS vertically in the top right hand side of your first page. Once you completed one step, you write your initials as to not forget you checked that. This works good in elementary classrooms, but this will work just as good for you.

As extra resources, I always recommend the Purdue OWL. They have a lot…

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eFiction July 2015 Review #3 – Unaccomplished by Alissa Berger



Yup, I’m still reviewing July’s issue of eFicition magazine.

This week, I take a look at Unaccomplished by Alissa Berger

A richly detailed dystopia, Unaccomplished could just as easily have been in Nebula Rift, the science fiction imprint by the same folks as eFiction. It shows a world where worth of humans is decided by talent and accomplishment, and those who fall short are harvested. Their limbs or organs are collected, or they get ground up for food. Yeah, pleasant stuff.

The good:

The narrative takes its time in this piece, building a horrific concentration camp in a world obsessed only with the results people produce. The supremely talented, the prodigies, and olympic superstars are granted free passes, while everyone else must prove themselves or get chopped up.

Grim, gritty, yet believable – by mining a common worry (“Can anyone see how good I am?”), the story gives a world similar to other dark dystopias, yet different in focus. Its a deep, immersive narrative that quickly suspends disbelief.

The could-use-improvement:

It’s a little long in some places. While I appreciate the way the narrative takes time to set up the inevitable ending, there were some missed chances to chop down the word count.

The main character, Wrander, facing death by dismemberment, never seems too broken up about it. There’s a serious lack of emotion – the tone of voice is a bit flat. Now, I realize this might be intentional as a mood for the piece, but I felt that Wrander didn’t fight, didn’t try to take a stand. I wanted to feel sorry for him, or to root for him, but as soon as he’s taken in to the concentration camp, he seems to just … accept it. I wanted stronger reactions from him, or some last-ditch attempt to show everybody that he is indeed talented, that he is accomplished.

My takeaway:

In a word, Worldbuilding. The big strength of this story is in building its world – the environment and reality are established quickly and expertly. The dystopia takes common fears and the modern obsession with celebrity and talent-searching to a horrifying yet believable extreme. The characters accept this reality fully, allowing the reader to accept it.

This story can help me learn how to craft a stronger world that readers will accept and appreciate.

Alissa Berger can be found on the web at

Unaccomplished appears in eFiction Vol. 6, No. 4 (July 2015).

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