By: Marilyn L. Davis
Why Revise, I Edit?
“Revising is surgery; editing is cosmetic. One is drastic, and the other improves or enhances the article.” ~Marilyn L. Davis
Many writers do simple edits and consider the post ready for publication. They’ve found the typos or grammar and punctuation errors. That’s good. But, I’d recommend that you back up and think more about revising before you edit and proofread.
The Importance of Revisions
Revisions concentrate on the entire post. Good revisions determine where to add new thoughts, clarify, choose more persuasive words, and eliminate or change others to present the writing better.
We often realize that only a few paragraphs are relevant to the subject. Sometimes, we’ll recognize that we’ve lost focus and went off on tangents. While they may be interesting, they may also be confusing to the reader. It’s important to realize if we’ve given the readers more information than they need or were redundant in our writing.
Revisions check the major components of any post or article. So what are you looking for in these revisions?
1. The Summary:
- Does it capture the main point(s)?
- Are there succinct words that will grab the reader’s attention?
2. The Introduction:
- Have you stated your argument or concept in the first paragraph?
- Is the language clear? If technical, did you define the terms for the readers?
3. The Content:
- Does it include Sub-headings that move the article forward?
- Is the argument/opinion/advice clear?
- Is it interesting?
- Are the ideas fully explored?
4. The Conclusion:
- Does it reinforce and rephrase the title summary?
- Did you issue a call to action or an invitation to comment?
How Can I Keep my Writing and Still Revise?
Revising is simple using Track Changes in Word. Some of you are familiar with getting an edited post from either Scott or me. We use this to communicate with our writers. We may also comment in a “balloon” to explain why we’ve made a change.
As the writer, you see your original writing and any revisions. If you like the new version, just accept the changes. However, if you like the original, then reject the changes.
For those of you who use Google Docs, there’s a similar function for those, too.
But I Edit My Writing!
So, how can you use Track Changes if you’re revising your own writing?
Before a revision, I think most posts need to sit for a day or two. Sometimes, a mysterious thing happens – words change, context is non-existent, an idea has been repeated without adding any new information, and those dangling participles have multiplied.
I don’t understand how it happens, but what made sense at first writing is sometimes not clear in the second reading.
What made sense the first time it was written is now unclear, and if you wrote it and now it doesn’t make sense, how do you suppose the reader feels?
Revising your article, a day or two after you wrote it, can help you determine if you must:
- Remove entire sections
- Restructure the writing to maintain focus
- Edit out unnecessary words.
- Move paragraphs to improve flow.
- Proofread or read aloud.
5 Steps for Revising and What They Do
Like most things, there’s a process for revising. I like revising. I’ve got my topic and decided whether to write from depth or breadth, narrow the scope, and present my opinions, observations, and research.
Creating a summary and making sure that my conclusion circles back and wraps the post up all neat and tidy. You’d think if it’s that stellar, I’d be done. No.
Next, I’ll print the post out a couple of days after writing. Now it’s time to:
When you’re ready to revise, decide:
- Are those words worth saying?
- Did I write what I wanted to say?
- Will, the reader, understand what I am saying?
In your revision, you might find that you lost focus three-quarters of the way through your article. You went off on a tangent about something related to your subject; however, it is mostly off-topic.
Revisions help you see where those unnecessary paragraphs contain useful information and are well written; they just do not add to the post you’re revising, or they may be a distraction for your intended focus. However, if they are good paragraphs, passages, or even a killer sentence, keep them in a darling file and use them later.
1. Reading the Draft
When you print your draft, step away from your computer. You’ll find that you engage with paper differently than seeing it written on the screen.
Several studies confirm this, and as the writer, you want to fully experience the post before you publish it, much like your reader will.
If you are stumbling over words, or a sentence sounds clunky, underline it, but don’t run to the computer to change it yet. Insert alternatives if you must, but finish the entire post at this reading.
Now, make your first changes in Track Changes.
2. Reread You Second Draft
Print out your second draft with your insertions or deletions.
- Is it reading smoothly?
- Do you transition from point to point logically?
- Are the sub-headings an alert or interruption of the thoughts?
- Is there a natural flow to your words?
Reviewing is an assessment of the whole.
- Does the post stay on track?
- Is there sufficient information?
- Did you offer eye relief with images or white space?
- Does this post accomplish your objective?
When you reflect on your post, what would your opinion be if you weren’t the writer?
Unfortunately, all of us fall victim to the “Wow, didn’t I write a great post” syndrome. No, you won’t find it listed in a medical dictionary, but it’s a real condition typically occurring when we get too enamored with our own words.
When I reflect, I also use the “find” function and look for unnecessary adverbs, searching for “ly” because many adverbs end in “ly.” Then I search again for my favorite words (however is one), and I try to pay close attention to glib remarks I make.
While I realize that I often use subtle humor in a serious post, there are times that a reader may think I was preachy or pedantic rather than witty.
It’s in the revision that I see where the humor falls flat, the message is murky, or I am preaching, no of which I may have noticed in the original draft.
5. Final Revision
With all that behind the scenes writing, my final revision is as simple as accepting and rejecting with Track Changes. Then I feel a measure of confidence that I’ve written as well as I can. There are also times that when I’m reading my drafts, I’ll use highlighters, in five colors to determine what aspect needs revising.
Actual Test of the Revisions
Although I’ve done a lot of work writing and revising this post, the actual test is what the reader thinks and feels.
Will you let me know? Thanks.
Marilyn L. Davis is the Editor-in-Chief at Two Drops of Ink and From Addict 2 Advocate. She is also the author of Finding North: A Journey from Addict to Advocate and Memories into Memoir: The Mindsets and Mechanics Workbook, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Indie Books, and Books A Million.
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