Editing Tips to Upgrade Your Writing

Posted by Pat Delorean

editing tips

There goes the final full stop in your piece. No matter how satisfying the moment is, you most definitely understand: it’s not the end. To bring the first draft closer to perfection you’ll have to revise and edit the piece of work ruthlessly. Although sometimes editing is a bit painful, it’s undoubtedly beneficial in the end. We’re about to share some tips to help you cope with the task like a pro.

Change the Mode

Writing part takes up a great deal of time and energy. Unsurprisingly, you gradually get weary of your own text. In addition to that, you’re less likely to spot imperfections: from illogical connections between sentences to silly typos.

Print out your work. Your brain will have to get used to the change and pay closer attention to details. To make the whole thing even more efficient, read it aloud. Good writing will flow: you won’t notice unnatural constructions or weird phrases. Otherwise, you’ll stumble upon the flaws immediately.

Get Some Distance

If the deadline allows, leave the writing aside for a couple of days. Even two or three hours may do miracles. Your brain will refresh while you focus on something else. This way you’ll minimize the chance of acquiring “editor’s fatigue”, which may stand in the way of your success.

Don’t Try Too Hard

You are to pay very close attention to editing and make sure each sentence is really good.

Doesn’t the sentence above seem too pushy? Doesn’t it make you want to say: “all right, all right, I got it”? That’s the magical effect of the two words: “really” and “very”. Try to avoid them whenever you can. They don’t complement your message and create the unnecessary clutter.

Add the Action

Powerful writing paints a vivid image for the reader. The stronger your sentences are, the faster you achieve the result. Verbs of action are a helpful tool here. In fact, even the previous sentence should be polished a little: “Verbs of action help a lot here”. This variant is more concise and straightforward. Use the verbs of action instead of “to be” constructions and hit the bull’s-eye.

Stay Positive

At times we all mask the real situation behind negative sentences. For instance: “I don’t think that’s a good idea” may be easily replaced by: “I think the idea is absolutely terrible”, right? We often do the same thing in writing. That brings to easily predictable consequences: the sentences become too verbose while your reader gets a blurry picture of the situation. When possible, replace the negative sentences with positive ones. Yes, that means more responsibility. And yes, it makes your writing sharper and tighter.

Avoid Passive Voice

Overusing the passive voice is a trap that is easy to fall into. It’s enticing for a number of reasons: the passive seems to help you sound smarter, allows to use more words in a sentence and avoid responsibility by not naming the agent of the action. Depending on the context, the use of passive voice is often absolutely legitimate. However, overdoing the passive is a bad thing. It makes your writing sound bulky and gets readers confused.

Nix the Adverbs

Instead of adding descriptive value to your writing, the adverbs often make it weak and wordy. Whenever possible, replace the verb+adverb construction with a single verb, that perfectly fits the situation. You’ll be surprised with the change: the text you’ve been working on will become far more expressive without losing its brevity.

Keep It Simple

Your piece has to be understandable for your readers. Thus, when editing the work make sure not a single word makes your reader reach for the dictionary. Few will actually do that. In case your writing is dedicated to a particular scientific topic, explain all the complicated terms and do your best to simplify the grammatic constructions: let the wider audience get how brilliant you really are!

The first draft is never the last one. Frequently, neither is second nor the third. Proper editing takes time, energy and patience. However, it’s truly worth the effort. Reading the final version of the piece you will surely be amazed both with the transformation and improvement.

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