In this age of DIY'ers, we all want to know how to do things ourselves. I'm all for the DIY spirit, so here are 5 tips that will help you in your self editing efforts.
If you have or ever will write anything, then for the sake of anyone who will read what you write, please read and apply the following editing tips:
1. The Broad Edit: Do I Deliver What I Promise?
Whether you are writing a scientific journal or mystery novel, every writer makes a promise to impart some nugget of knowledge to their readers. You set them up with your premise, and in the body, you deliver. Your broad edit should look at the logic and concepts of your project and make sure it really delivers.
Just in case that is clear as mud, I've got an example of a very popular novel that DIDN'T deliver on it's promise. How many of you have read the entire Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer? Don't be afraid to admit it, I did too. In fact, I read it in about a week. Most of the time I really enjoyed myself, but when you are reading that last book and you see the Cullen's and Bella preparing for this major battle, you get all excited! Finally some real action! And then Bella's powers protect everyone and the battle ends in a stalemate before it has even begun! Talk about a major let down. At least in the movie the directors (or producers, or writers, or whoever) found a way to have a battle without actually having a battle. That was well delivered!
Hopefully I didn't just lose you with the Twilight reference. Anywho, when you are doing your broad edit, read through your paper looking for the promises and the deliveries. DON'T GET STUCK ON THE NITPICKY THINGS YET! If you are missing deliveries, then, figure them in or take out the promises. Nothing is more disappointing then a story or paper that doesn't deliver on it's promises.
2. Spelling and Grammar Checks: When To Trust the Software, and When Not To.
I have heard many writers say, "I never trust spell check." Well, honestly, I don't trust it for everything, but that doesn't mean I don't use the heck out of it. Besides, what do you do if you don't really have the skills to perform your own spell checks? The software spell checks are better than nothing at all!
Software spelling and grammar checks are just one tool in a writer's tool box. Just like a carpenter will use his measuring tape before he cuts wood, a writer ought to use the spell check before he hits "publish" or "submit." What is that phrase? Oh yes, "Measure twice, cut once." A Master Craftsman will still use that measuring tape, even if he can tell where to cut without measuring.
I recommend that you use the software checks at least once, right before you call your work finished. It will take you through the entire work and ask you if you want to change things. This is when your inner expert will need to come out and say, "Yes, that needs to be changed," or "Nope, that's what I want it to say." If you don't have an inner expert, consult the internet or a friend.
Then I suggest that you read through your writing again and pay special attention to words like to, too and two, that won't be caught by the software spelling and grammar checks. Measure twice. Cut Once.
3. Read Your Work Out Loud.
I am a firm believer that everything that is written needs to be read out loud. When you read something out loud, you are better able to hear what it will sound like in your readers head. This is especially true for poets who rely heavily on rhythm and pacing in their work, but I think even novelists and bloggers need to do it. I think even magazine articles and Masters Theses should get this treatment.
Do your readers a favor and take the time to read your work out loud. If you read something differently than what you have written, or if you stumble over certain parts, you know that those parts need fixing. Fix them, then read it aloud again!
4. Polish The Rough Spots.
If you truly want to put out a polished piece of writing, you will need to read and rewrite your piece several times before you can consider it finished. Each time you read it, either silently or aloud, you will "feel" the rough spots. Smooth those rough spots by changing word choice or sentence structure, by rearranging sentences or paragraphs, and more. The more you smooth out the bumps, the more polished your work will be.
5. Get Someone Else to Read It.
No matter how good you are, once you have read a piece of writing a thousand times, you start to read it the way you want it to read, and inevitably, you will miss something. Whether you pay an editor to go over it, or have your mom read it, you will need someone else to read your writing at some point.
Honestly, I hope you'll give me a call at that point! If you are at that point now, click on the link below to be taken to my contact form. Fill that out. I look forward to working with you!
About the Author : Lindsay Hodge
I am a writer and a photographer, a stay-at-home-mom, a wife, a homesteader and I am interested in all things sustainable. My husband and I own our own homestead... If you like that sort of thing, you can check out my OTHER website.
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