Use These 3 Editing Tips to Ensure Your Writing Hits the Bull's-Eye
The first step in the writing process is to put your ideas down on paper. Once you have text to work with, the second step is to revise what you have written to make it as clear, accurate and powerful as you can. The final step is to edit your work carefully.
Editing Tip #1: Take a Break
When you have concentrated on your writing for long periods of time, there is a tendency to read what you think is there-not what you have actually written! By taking a break for a few hours (or even a few days), you will return to your work with a fresh mind and fresh eyes. Suddenly you will realize that:
- The rhythm of your sentences and paragraphs is off; either they are too short and choppy or too convoluted and long.
- Some of your ideas are out of place and belong in a different paragraph.
- One of your paragraphs doesn't make any sense!
- You forgot to address a crucial aspect of your topic.
- Some of your data is wrong or missing.
- You have misspelled several words and accidentally omitted others.
Editing is conducted at two levels. First concentrate on the conceptual, or substantive, level to ensure that your ideas are strong, logical and well-organized. Once this step is complete, go through your work line-by-line to check for small details such as spelling, grammar, word choice and punctuation.
When you begin to edit at the conceptual level, try to approach your work as though you were the intended reader instead of the author. In your role as reader, look at the introduction. Is it compelling? Do you clearly understand what the topic, major points and slant of the communication will be?
Then look at the body. Do the ideas flow well, or are they confusing? Are they presented in some kind of logical order? Do concrete details help to paint a clear picture? Are any stray ideas lurking in unrelated paragraphs?
Does this communication seem to be written for you? In other words, do you feel like you are its intended audience, or does the writer fail to explain concepts, terms and acronyms you don't understand? Is the voice of this communication appropriate? Is it too formal? Too informal? Just right?
Did the writer insult your intelligence by repeating the same ideas over and over? Or did the writer present a strong, clear, coherent argument that you understood immediately? Finally, what is your overall impression of this communication (and its writer)? Positive or negative?
This technique of reading what you have written as though you were the intended audience will help you see your communications from a different perspective. Some of what you discover may surprise you. Make any changes that are necessary and then proceed to line editing.
The final step in the editing process is to go through your document line-by-line to check for errors in mechanics (e.g., spelling, grammar, punctuation), word usage and format.
If you included tables or figures, be sure to check that the captions are correct and that you entered the data correctly. Also be sure you have expressed your ideas as succinctly as possible. If you find your sentences are filled with empty, unnecessary words, delete them.
If you are having problems "seeing" your errors at the line level, go to the end of your document and read the last sentence. Then read the second to last sentence. Continue working from the end to the beginning until you reach your opening line! This technique keeps your brain from automatically reading what you think you wrote and helps you see what is actually on the page.
A Special Word About Homonyms
The English language has many words, called homonyms, that sound the same but are spelled differently and have different meanings. The four most common sets are: their/they're/there, too/to/two, your/you're, and its/it's.
These are FREQUENTLY used incorrectly! Even when you know the difference between them, it is easy to type the wrong word when you are concentrating on getting your ideas down on paper. Unfortunately, ordinary spell-check programs cannot distinguish between homonyms that are used correctly and those that are used incorrectly. Therefore, always pay special attention to these words when you are conducting a line edit.
Editing Tip #3: Always Spell-Check Your Work
It is amazing how often writers fail to perform this final edit--especially since it is so easy to do! I will agree that spell-check programs attached to word processing software cannot detect homonyms, that they highlight unfamiliar words that are actually spelled correctly, and that the grammar check is frequently just plain wrong.
On the other hand, they do pick up incorrect spacing between words, highlight a few grammar problems correctly, and catch most of your misspelled words. The process doesn't take very long and is easy to perform. In the end, you have nothing to lose by taking this final step and potentially much to gain!
Clarice Kyd Dankers, M.A., offers editing and coaching services to business and academic clients around the world. Her work incorporates eight years of experience in business communications with extensive experience in linguistics, publishing and university teaching. For more information about her services-or to sign up for her free monthly newsletter-go to http://www.PolishYourWriting.com
Applying KISS Principle in Writing
I have added a new word to my vocabulary. Logorrhea.
Trying Too Hard
If you dread the thought of writing, if you fear your desk, and if you hate your computer, then you are trying too hard.If the thought of writing makes you feel guilty, makes your heartbeat quicker, and makes you sweat, then you are trying too hard.
Creative Writing Tips - Have You Established Your Main Character At The Start?
In the beginning of your story you have to grab your readers' interest and sustain it till the end. Our hook is our character.
How I Became a Syndicated Columnist -- And You Can Too!
Real Estate has "Location, location, location," and writing has "Clips, clips, clips."When people ask me how I became a syndicated columnist, I usually say, "it just snowballed.
Seven Suggestions To Develop a Superb Writing Style
Every writer eventually develops her own unique style of writing. As you struggle to create your own voice, while focusing on the required standards, you may want to consider the following tips for improving your style and establishing a professional formula for success.
The Authors Life: 14 Hints on Creating a Career Plan
1. Remember publication is a business; writing is an art.
Writing Made Them Rich #4: Paulo Coelho
Paulo Coelho was born on August 24th 1947 in Rio deJaneiro, Brazil.At age 17 he announced his intention to be a writer.
Do You Know What A Plot Is?
Creative Writing Tips -What a plot is and what a story is can be sometimes confusing. If you think they are the same? They are not.
Generating Nonfiction Book Titles Without a Hassle
The process of developing a working title for your nonfiction book can be a hassle sometimes. You first have to brainstorm a few titles, and if the results aren't to your liking, you are practically forced to brainstorm more possible titles --- or do you?One way to shorten this process is to have a book title bank at your fingertips that will include trigger titles, such as the ones listed below:Techniques for ----One Way to ----How to ----Handbook for -----Protecting ----Investing for ----Saving Your -----Finding Security in -----Fixing -----Getting -----Each of the sample triggers above has one or more missing words for you to fill in.
How To Break Into Print Publishing
The big question. Do you submit directly to the publishers, or doyou find an agent who will do that for you? Based on anecdotalevidence I've heard, it can work either way.
Conflict - How To Keep Your Readers Turning Pages
Some writers are just too kind.They hate to put their characters under any kind of pressure.
Extreme Research: 10 Snappy Rules For Success
So you want to learn to research well, and not waste any time. Let's do it.
How You Can Take Advantage of the Increasing Demand for Freelance Online Writers
The freelance writing market is a growing market to be in. There are many jobs available, but sometimes, it can be hard to find the work that you want, and available at the time you want it to be.
Gut Check: Quitting Your Full-time Job for Your Freelance Career
It's 6:00 p.m.
Have You Plotted Your Story Before Writing It?
Creative Writing Tips -The writer, who doesn't have the time to plot, always finds the time to rewrite.Sound familiar?I've been guilty of this too, back in the early days of my writing apprenticeship.
How to Write Funny -- Its All About Timing
My Dad has this old joke that goes, "What's the most important thing about humor?" After a short pause, he interjects, "TIMING!"I've rolled my eyes many a time over this joke.But here's a new version for writers: "What's the most important thing about writing funny? .
EditingExpect, allow, and accept that every first draft will represent your lowest standard and have at it.A first draft is just that, a draft with its lack of organization, lack of cogent thought, poor syntax, grammatical errors, typos and spelling slip-ups, and other inaccuracies.
7 Secrets For Beating Writers Block
Most people can easily identify with the dreaded "writer'sblock". It is a well-known phenomenon that just abouteveryone has faced at one point in their lives.
Money Trails for Writers
I'm willing to bet that quite a number of you once had to debate (or discuss) the saying: "The pen is mightier than the sword." If you were arguing 'for', you would have been able to come up with many examples of how words triumphed over muscles.
Formats for Writing Life Narratives
Q and A.Best choice when subject is very verbal or there are two or more people beinginterviewed or taped at the same time.