How To Edit Your Own Writing

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The truth about a first draft is that it doesn’t need to be perfect – it just needs to be written. Even Hemingway claimed that “the first draft of anything is sh*t”. The first draft is where it starts, but even after you place the lid back on your pen, or press print – the process is far from over. The end of writing (and re-writing) marks the beginning of editing your work.

Writing and editing go hand in hand when it comes to producing masterpieces. When we talk about ‘great writing’, we’re also indirectly talking about ‘great editing’. While some writers have the privilege of working for a publishing company and have a professional editor to go through their work, other writers, particularly those just starting out, are their own editors. This article is for the latter. Read on for tips on how to edit your own writing…

Finish Your Work

Before we allow ourselves to be a critic of our work, we have to first finish being a writer. While the creative process can work in many ways, producing work is completely different from critiquing. Allowing both processes to intercede may demoralise the art of our writing. So always give yourself time to finish writing, and then edit it later.

Don’t look back until you’ve written an entire draft, just begin each day from the last sentence you wrote the preceding day. This prevents those cringing feelings, and means that you have a substantial body of work before you get down to the real work which is all in the edit.” — Will Self

Read It Aloud

One of the most effective ways of editing your work is to read it out loud. Reading aloud will force you to take note of your words – each and every one of them. This way, technicalities such as spelling, grammar and punctuation are magnified and more easily spotted. The trick to reading aloud is to read slowly. Speed-reading through your work will not help the editing process.

Reading your work aloud will also sound different compared to when you read it in your mind. When you speak aloud, you’ll begin to hear how your sentences are structured (for better or for worse). Ask yourself, does your work sound clunky? All the clumsy, unnecessary words should be then cut out. If you can imagine it, it’s like the way gardeners shape hedges into desired, quirky shapes; It’s a long process and takes a lot of detailed work.

Anyone and everyone taking a writing class knows that the secret of good writing is to cut it back, pare it down, winnow, chop, hack, prune, and trim, remove every superfluous word, compress, compress, compress…” – Nick Hornby

Take A Break

Editing your own work can be a tedious task. Writers don’t always have the privilege of time but when you do, let the editing process breathe. That means, walk away from your work, get some rest and focus on another activity for a while before coming back to your manuscript. If you find yourself constantly deleting and rewriting big chunks of work, or correcting a comma use, only to put it back again, then it might be due time to take that break.

After re-reading your work a couple of times, the structure and sentences of your work will become so familiar that the easiest mistakes will just slide past your eyes. Taking a break will allow you to come back to your work with a fresh perspective. 

The best advice I can give on this is, once it’s done, to put it away until you can read it with new eyes. Finish the short story, print it out, then put it in a drawer and write other things. When you’re ready, pick it up and read it, as if you’ve never read it before. If there are things you aren’t satisfied with as a reader, go in and fix them as a writer: that’s revision.” – Neil Gaiman

Read It Again And Again

There is no magic formula nor set amount of times a work should be edited before it’s ‘right’. While reading your manuscript slowly from front to back may help spot mistakes, another tip is to read it backwards. It may be confusing, but it will certainly help you be a forceful spell-checker on your own, as is makes you examine every individual word out of context.

Are there any words that you aren’t sure about? Get a dictionary. Use a standard dictionary such as The Oxford English Dictionary, or whatever equivalent is commonly used in your jurisdiction.

And look out for contextual errors that spell-check won’t necessarily pick up on. Some of the most common are:

  1. You’re/Your
  2. Affect/Effect
  3. They’re/Their/There
  4. Its/It’s
  5. Then/Than

These errors may be small, but they make all the difference as to how your work will pen out in its final form. It’s the smallest details that convey the type of writer you are and will be.

Be mindful of different perspectives. Ask yourself, how would you feel as the reader? How is what you’re saying conveyed? Sometimes as writers, we get so caught up in trying to account for our own understanding that we begin to lose sight how our work may be interpreted by our target audience.

Let Someone Else Read/Edit It

It is crucial that someone else, other than yourself helps you read through your work before you submit to any publications. Whether it is a professional editor or a trusted writer-friend, getting someone else to read and edit your work is always helpful, as they tend to be able to notice the mistakes that you’ve missed. They will also be able to give a different perspective without being emotionally biased towards your work. This helps prepare you for how your audience might interpret your story.

Editing is for anyone and everyone who writes, especially professionally. In an interview published in The Paris Review with Ernest Hemingway in 1956, Hemingway said that he rewrote the last page of Farewell to Arms 39 times before he was satisfied. The biggest problem, he admitted, was “getting the words right”.

The repetitiveness of re-reading and rewriting during the editing process can be brutal, demoralising and sometimes painfully slow, but it is always completely necessary for writers. When there comes a time when this process discourages you from writing, remember that heavy edit days make great writers.

Good luck!

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Via: https://writersedit.com/fiction-writing/edit-writing/

3 Things to Cut From Your Writing 

I believe that within each writer there is an editor, a source of self-criticism that can take our work to the next level with a simple re-read and a dash of red pen. Of course, self-editing is not the end of the line when it comes to polishing your writing (workshopping and seeking a third-party editor is invaluable) but you can do a lot for your story, poem, or script by simply cleaning it up yourself.

At sentence-level (looking at each word and how it functions within the sentence it forms) you can usually cut, condense, or re-word to enrich your writing. There are many things that you could focus on when self-editing at sentence-level (from tone and voice to word-choice and vocabulary) but without even delving too deeply you can tighten and intensify your style.

But before you email your writing to a friend, or send off your submission to an agent, take the time to focus on the following to wake up your inner-editor:

Cut adverbs

This may sound harsh, but adverbs are lazy. Adverbs work against the idea of ‘show, don’t tell’ by telling the reader that ‘the star shone brightly’ rather than showing that it ‘twinkled and glittered like a lost silver coin’, for example.

There is almost always a way to show an adverb rather than telling it, and sometimes you can just cut them entirely and your writing hasn’t lost anything.

The more adverbs you use, the less interesting and unique your descriptions become. So any time you can show your adverb, or cut it entirely, the more enjoyable your writing becomes to read.

Omit needless words

It was the great Strunk who hammered the following into E.B. White’s brain, and it stands true today. We pack our writing (as we do our speech) with ‘filler’ words, words that don’t add to the sentence but just take up valuable space.

The main culprits to take note of include: really, very, just, so, a lot, pretty much, rather, quite, and sometimes.

Sometimes these words are necessary, but you’ll know when to get rid of them and when to re-write them. Check out this cheat sheet for ideas on how to get around lazy ‘very’ words.

Unnecessary words can also work their way into your writing by means of tautology or repetition. When you’ve said one thing but reiterate it in different words you’re creating unnecessary work for the reader, and using up your word count.

Comb back through your writing and analyse the importance of every word at sentence-level, cutting the ones that are pointless. Be ruthless. This will tighten your sentences and give greater impact and immediacy to your writing.

Avoid clichés

We wouldn’t have them if they weren’t so good. But it’s like flogging a dead horse (see what I did there?). Clichés are used so frequently in our everyday language that it feels natural to slip them into your writing, and you don’t even notice.

They’re often brilliant images or analogies, but when you’ve heard them all your life they become meaningless and dull.

If you find the perfect cliché to sum up your character’s emotions or thoughts, cut it and re-write your own with images that are original and new. Creativity is refreshing, so use it to your advantage to wow your reader with new words in new ways.

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I hope you find these tips useful. Happy writing!

Via http://writersedit.com/top-3-things-cut-writing/

Embrace the Art of Editing

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When I write, I write alone.

This statement is true for most people who take on a creative pursuit such as being an author. In fact, solitude is often the key to finding ‘the flow’ or ‘the zone’ or whatever you like to call the wonderful state where words pour onto the page bringing ideas to life. But when the story reaches its conclusion, or creative flow eludes you, being alone can become simply, lonely. That loneliness can create a space where self-doubt grows, making it even harder to keep trying.

When you finally send your work out into the world, perhaps to an agent or a professional editor, you can be forgiven for being a little apprehensive whilst awaiting a response. After all, you are sending out your darlings to be judged.

However, hearing someone’s thoughts and opinions about your work will help you see your writing in a new light. There’s always the risk of getting too close to a story, whether it’s fact or fiction. The people, good or bad, and the drama can come to affect you so deeply that objectivity becomes difficult. You begin writing from the heart rather than your head, so removing yourself enough to know what to cut can be near impossible.

In the case of fiction, it is rare when an author is not emotionally involved. We create characters from our imaginations, giving them life, hopes, dreams and obstacles to overcome. So similarly, when it comes time to edit, one of the hardest things to do is ‘kill our darlings’ – as it should be!

Editors can be objective. Whether we are talking about journalism or fiction, they are not emotionally invested like the author. Their job is to take a clinical look at the piece. They are experienced wordsmiths who can examine word placement, flow, character, plot, structure and the basics of spelling and grammar in order to give constructive feedback.

Having at times been both an editor and writer I have learnt a very important lesson; editing is essential, regardless of the form of writing and it is something we need to learn to embrace. There are horror stories about bad editors who do more harm than good, so as an author it is always your job to maintain the integrity of a story or article. However, also remember good editors have just one goal in mind – to make your writing the very best it can be.

The key is not to take feedback too personally, something often easier said than done. Not all editors are gentle and sometimes they point out things you don’t want to hear, but all feedback will teach you something.

While it can be confronting to open yourself up for criticism, editors also help give you confidence in your creation by making sure the story essentials are all clear and in place. So if you’re lonely or struggling, find an editor and don’t give up.

Things to remember:

  • See feedback as an opportunity to improve
  • Don’t be precious or defensive – if you really don’t agree, don’t make the changes
  • Keep an open mind
  • Enjoy the process of sharing your work
  • Be brave

Finishing a writing project, big or small, is an achievement that should not be understated. Many writers work around day jobs, family and dozens of other life obstacles. So keep writing and embrace editing, you never know where you might end up.

Read the original article here: http://writersedit.com/embracing-art-editing/

Embracing the Art of Editing

Art-of-Editing-1

Having at times been both an editor and writer I have learnt a very important lesson; editing is essential, regardless of the form of writing and it is something we need to learn to embrace. There are horror stories about bad editors who do more harm than good, so as an author it is always your job to maintain the integrity of a story or article. However, also remember good editors have just one goal in mind – to make your writing the very best it can be.

The key is not to take feedback too personally, something often easier said than done. Not all editors are gentle and sometimes they point out things you don’t want to hear, but all feedback will teach you something.

While it can be confronting to open yourself up for criticism, editors also help give you confidence in your creation by making sure the story essentials are all clear and in place. So if you’re lonely or struggling, find an editor and don’t give up.

Things to remember:

  • See feedback as an opportunity to improve
  • Don’t be precious or defensive – if you really don’t agree, don’t make the changes
  • Keep an open mind
  • Enjoy the process of sharing your work
  • Be brave

Finishing a writing project, big or small, is an achievement that should not be understated. Many writers work around day jobs, family and dozens of other life obstacles. So keep writing and embrace editing, you never know where you might end up.

Read the full article here: http://writersedit.com/embracing-art-editing/

3 Things to Cut From Your Writing 

I believe that within each writer there is an editor, a source of self-criticism that can take our work to the next level with a simple re-read and a dash of red pen. Of course, self-editing is not the end of the line when it comes to polishing your writing (workshopping and seeking a third-party editor is invaluable) but you can do a lot for your story, poem, or script by simply cleaning it up yourself. Develop your inner editor by cutting the following unnecessary frills from your writing:

Via http://writersedit.com/top-3-things-cut-writing/

How to Self Edit and Proofread your Book

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Self-publishing may be an inexpensive way to publish a book, but without thorough proofread and editing, it can turn out to be an embarrassing disaster.

While there is just no escaping the absolute necessity of having an independent pair of eyes at least proofread your book before publishing, you can save yourself a lot of money and embarrassment by doing some of the work yourself.

However, our brains are programmed in an odd way that can make it difficult to find errors in our own writing. So here are a few ways I have found that work effectively. This is not to say that you will achieve perfection, but I guarantee you will be very surprised by the number of errors you do find.

Via http://www.justpublishingadvice.com/how-to-self-edit-and-proofread-your-book/?utm_source=ReviveOldPost&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=ReviveOldPost