Editing is a must when you write. Even the best writers and editors need someone else to edit their work. It is very easy when you are typing quickly to misspell or use the wrong spelling of a word. How do I know? I’ve done it!
Even though it is best to have someone else proofread your material, when that is not possible, be sure to proof it yourself. The best way is to read it out loud. That goes for email too.
One column cannot begin to cover editing. I think many of us are guilty of using spell check and grammar check on the computer and thus fail to read our article or email through, let alone out loud. It tends to be more effective to write first and then edit and best to let someone else do the final edit. It is very easy to miss what you have written yourself, as you know the material. It is difficult to keep up with the latest trends and rules of grammar, as rules change all the time.
This next tip is one Brenda Hill and I got from Cork Millner. I’m going to paraphrase it. “Take a pen to almost every and, but, yet, so, however, and too that do not add meaning to your story. Circle those words and your work will probably resemble a bunch of Cheerios. Brenda and I call the circles lifesavers. Remove the lifesavers and your story will sing.”
Here is the tip that Brenda, Norm, and I follow consistently. We read our work aloud to a friend, each other, or at least ourselves.
Lou Willet Stanek, Ph.D., author of So You Want to Write a Novel, taught us this editing truth over a decade ago. “The Ear Can Hear What the Eye Cannot See.”
Between the lifesaver trick and reading aloud, you will find yourself following George Orwell’s advice, “When you can cut a word, cut it. Also, when you are editing, it is a good time to look for words or phrases than can be replaced by more effective ones.”
Reading aloud helps to hear sound, rhythm, tone, and your authentic voice. The three of us have learned to write tighter by rewriting and reading aloud as many times as it takes. I would encourage everyone who wants to write to get a copy of theAssociated Press Style Book. It is updated every year or two, so be sure you get the latest edition. You want to be consistent.
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