By: Marilyn L. Davis
Editing: What Good Writers Do
“Put down everything that comes into your head, and then you’re a writer. But an author can judge his own stuff’s worth, without pity, and edit most of it.” Collette
Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette stated that most good writers are merciless in their editing. One reason for this is that first drafts lean towards all the jumbled thoughts, feelings, ideas, and opinions writers have about the topic and are not ready for publication.
They write an engaging story, give their perspective on politics or social injustice, comment on the latest trend, or research and link to an exciting historical time or person.
While all of those can make a good post, without proper editing, readers will leave. Why is that? Because readers don’t have time for amateurish writing and editing.
Correct It Before Someone Rejects It
Each writer needs to think more like Collette’s definition of an author – someone who is not afraid to destroy the components of their post that do not demonstrate excellent writing abilities.
If you find that you are getting guest posts rejected, maybe you haven’t spent enough time on a revision or edit.
With the competition today, you cannot depend on quick wit, knowledge, or ability to string 1000 words together to get you by as there is content, and then there is corrected content.
As an editor, It’s frustrating to work with a writer and explain why I have rejected a guest post. If the content has appeal, I’ll ask them to revise and edit and resubmit. Too often, these corrections aren’t made, and the same post resubmitted without any corrections. .
Corrected Content Respects the Reader
Revisions look at the various components of the article’s structure. Revising finds the bad passages, redundant sentences, off-topic tangents, conflicting tone, style, and syntax issues.
Therefore, if you have revised and restructured your article, it should be ready to publish.
No, not quite yet, your revision made the structural changes, now you have to check for mistakes – that is one type of editing that can set your post apart from others.
Corrected content demonstrates that you respect your readers by doing the best job of editing that you can.
Editing is the final change to your revised drafts. Yes, I wrote plural – drafts. Many sites do not have deadlines, so you have time to work on your craft, and that means multiple drafts for most of us.
For a comprehensive listing of grammar rules and guidelines, the Guide to Grammar and Writing and Principles of Composition lists over 400 quickly corrected writing mistakes. If you’re uncertain, run your drafts through Grammarly or other grammar checkers – and then learn from your mistakes. For some reason, I liked the semi-colon but was misusing it. Since I knew this was a common mistake for me, I made an effort to study the correct way to use one. Now, I’m careful to use one correctly and less frustrated with my writing.
Write Well – Edit Better
As a reader, I'm frustrated when there are mistakes that editing and proofreading will catch. Knowing which type of errors we typically make means that our editing is specific to those mistakes and types of problems. Click To Tweet
But after I’ve looked for the misplaced semi-colon, I might run a spell check. While it is a good beginning, it doesn’t find all of the mistakes, like homophones, such as:
The spelling of those words is correct; however, they may not be the right word for your sentence. After writing and revising, you have looked at your writing too long. You know how it is supposed to read, and you will read it correctly. For instance, he instead of the or she instead of he, or is instead of it or if.
Those are the tricky little words that a spell check will not find because they are words. While we will all understand Leah McClellan’s quote, look at how it emphasizes the point:
“… donut truss spiel chick, these words will get through just find.”
Potato/ Potahto/Tomato/Tomahto: Editing/Revising/Proofreading
Editing and proofreading are similar concepts, regardless of which label you use. The purpose of them is synonymous. It is taking your final draft and looking for the annoying types of mistakes that make your writing look unpolished and unprofessional.
Jarod Kintz’s humorous take on types of writers reinforces the point: “There Are Two Typos Of People In This World: Those Who Can Edit And Those Who Can’t.”
How many of you read the word “typo” as “type” because that would make sense? Why do we average writers and readers do that?
- The reader fills in the logical blanks and continues reading.
- The writer isn’t concerned with a few “minor typos.”
Then there’s the better writer and reader, and they do things differently:
- Better readers judge this as poor writing.
- The best writers fix the problems before they publish it.
Find the typos; diligently look for the problem words, grammar, formatting, or other errors you did not correct in your revision. Make your article as close to excellent as you can. If you want to be an above-average writer, pay attention, here is your chance to change a bad habit – not thoroughly editing.
Print Out Your Article – With a Few Twists
We engage with paper differently than we do with a screen. Most studies conclude that we experience heightened attention when we hold the paper in our hands, actively engaging other senses into the reading experience; therefore, it makes sense to edit in print.
Many writers print out their final drafts to finish their editing. However, I have a few twists on this editing tip. Rather than print out your draft as written, change some of your writing. Look how differently the words show in these examples:
After you have made the differences in font, color, or spacing, print your article and move away from the computer, so you are not tempted to correct the post as you edit. Please take this opportunity to read it out loud after the corrections.
- How is the flow?
- Is it helpful?
- Did you write it to the best of your ability?
- Are you satisfied with your writing?
- Have you respected the reader?
Pared Down, Proofread, and Ready to Publish
Thinking like Collette means that we’re not afraid to destroy the article’s components that do not demonstrate good writing practices.
Write, revise, edit, proofread, and then publish.
Two Drops of Ink: The Literary Home for Collaborative Writing
Ready to send us a guest post? We’re accepting poetry, prose, personal essays, and problem-solving for the writer and blogger. You’ll get more exposure for your writing, links to other writings or your website or book.