6 Editing Tips for Writing Your Way to Success
Throughout my wizened 19 years of life, I’ve had the opportunity (or misfortune, depending on how you regard writing) to write numerous pieces of literature for classes and various publications. As a section editor for a college newspaper and a content editor for a college magazine, I not only edit my own work, but the work of others as well.
Regardless of the audience an author is writing for, a good article, essay, or blog post needs to follow proper writing conventions. Otherwise, the errors that a reader notices will detract from the actual content being presented. Without further ado, I present to you my very own list of editing tips, tricks, and other acts of wizardry to make your writing as pristine as possible.
- Check your work in a text editor. While some web browsers do have built in spell checkers, it’s always a good idea to double check your writing in a program such as Microsoft Word, TextEdit, or a multifunctional tool like Relaborate! Those colored squiggly lines can be lifesavers and sometimes we type so quickly that we miss the little details. My recommendation is to use the tools available to you just to make sure nothing is glossed over.
- Read aloud. This is a tip that teachers are sure to have ingrained in your mind all through grade school, and more likely than not, you ignored it. I know I disregarded this advice at first, but once I started reading my writing aloud, I was amazed by how many errors I found. What seems to be an eloquent passage in your mind might in reality be a clunky mess. Pro tip: lock yourself in a room if you think reading aloud is embarrassing!
- Be active, not passive. There are times where using the passive voice is appropriate, but more often than not, the active voice is the stronger alternative. The active voice is not only more direct, but also easier to understand and more concise. Instead of writing “The ball was kicked by the boy who was happy,” write “The happy boy kicked the ball.”
- Concision, concision, concision. Yes, I do realize the irony of writing concision three times. Redundant information needs to be removed because in today’s fast-paced world, readers will stop reading an article if they don’t think the content they’re reading is meaningful.
- Don’t adhere to strict conventions. Once upon a time you were probably introduced to the Jane Schaeffer method. This method required writers to use transitions at certain points, and have two points of commentary for every concrete detail. Writing using similar methods ends up being stiff and uninteresting. Don’t be afraid to vary sentence structures to create more compelling articles.
- Take a step back. So you think your article is finished and the only thing you want to do is click print or publish? Stop right there! Press save, and wait at least an hour before you revisit your piece again. My favorite thing to do is go to sleep and wait until the next day to read the piece over again. The mental break allows you to revisit your article with a clear mind.
These editing tips alone will not transform your writing overnight, but they’re a good place to start. Just like learning how to play an instrument, practice makes perfect. Writing is an art, and as your editing skills are refined and honed over time, your works will slowly come to life.
Now go ahead and write (then edit!). Maybe the next piece you look at will win a Pulitzer prize.
Image credit- http://serc.carleton.edu/images/sp/carl_ltc/wacn/writing.jpg
This post was created using Relaborate’s Tips and Tricks Template.