7 Simple Steps to Wise Editing

Finished those big edits? You’re not done yet. Time to narrow your focus to the words themselves and my guest today, Antonio Tooley, has just the tips to help you do that. All yours, Antonio.

If you are a student, a journalist, a novelist, or a freelance writer, you are required to write on a daily basis, and that is pretty much a given. However, there is another skill you should master: editing. You may not be able to have an editor go over your work for some reason, and even if you do, it’s still wise to do as much editing as you can yourself, before turning in your first rough draft.

Also, your readers will expect your work to be nothing less than perfect, not because they will go looking for errors with a marker, but because perfection is what is expected, it’s the norm, so much that nobody notices it while it’s there, but once it’s gone, it sticks out like sore thumb.

If you don’t go over your work several times in order to tighten it up and make all the necessary edits, the readers will notice that you have rushed through it and avoided putting in the extra effort, and you will lose them eventually.

In order to avoid that, we have provided you with seven most effective editing tips that will elevate the quality of your work and keep the readers glued to it.

Never Edit Right Away

Many writers like to edit their work as soon as they are done, and feel as if they have completed something, before moving on to the next chapter or article. However, there is a high chance that you will be too exhausted from writing to devote your full focus and attention to every single detail that needs checking. A better way to edit would be to step away from your work and take a break, or even approach it a few days later. An added benefit of this method is that you avoid the trap of falling in love with your own work. Let it rest for a while, before you read it again with a fresh pair of eyes.

Do a Brief Overview

The next step would be to go over your text briefly so you can spot some of the most obvious errors, such as glaring typos and misspelled words, but also to make sure your work functions in general. Pay attention to the pace, and make there aren’t any major factual errors or logical discrepancies. This is your chance to remedy some of the larger issues with your work, provided that there are some, before you can move on to more detailed editing.

Create a Hard Copy of Your Work

One of the hardest things about editing is being objective when it comes to your own writing. But there is a way you can circumvent this issue and put some distance between you and your work. Always print out a hard copy of it and then go over it. This is probably the best way of simulating reading someone else’s work, and therefore being as objective as possible. Whether you prefer to write using a pen and paper, a typewriter, or a laptop, always print out your work.

Read It Out Loud

When you are reading something, words should flow together naturally, as if you were listening to someone speak, so why not be the one doing the speaking? Simply read your writing out loud and see how it sounds. Reading it out loud will help you detect phrases and sentences that sound even the least bit off, so you can mark them for editing or removal. In addition to that, try to write the way people speak, and that means using stuff like contractions, as well. It will provide the readers with a sense that there is a human being behind the words they are reading, and not a robot.

Eliminate Redundant Words and Phrases

We are not just talking about filler words that add pretty much nothing to the overall story. If you find yourself using constructions such as “repeating the same thing all over again”, or “brand new”, get rid of them, or just keep one. More words doesn’t mean better writing, which is why you should aim to be concise and use just the right number of words to express your ideas and thoughts. Just think of Hemingway’s famously stingy style of writing as your guideline when in doubt what to do.

Use Strong Verbs

If you use weak verbs, you risk sounding unconvincing and indecisive, as if you are not 100% sure about the words you are putting on the page. The way to fix this would be to replace those weak verbs with stronger ones, so that there is no dilemma about what you’re trying to say. For instance, you may use a phrase like “make it better”, whereas a more effective solution would be to use verbs like “improve”, “enhance”, “strengthen”, or “boost”. The same principle can be applied for the replacement or elimination of weak adverbs and adjectives.

Be Brutal

Each writer finds it difficult to discard some of their work, but you have to think of it as trying to carve out a sculpture from a single block of marble. The good stuff is already there; you just have to eliminate the bits that are unnecessary. And nothing will save you as much time as eliminating a paragraph or a chapter that doesn’t really work right away, instead of spending countless hours deciding how to salvage it. Scrap it and see if the story works just as well without it. If it doesn’t, create a brand new one. It’s as simple as that.

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