Editing your written work: how not to miss mistakes

Today please welcome guest author Lucy Benton – originally from Illinois, USA and now resident of Sydney, Australia. Lucy is a writing and editing expert who also runs a superb blog, ProWritingPartner, which I thoroughly recommend as a goldmine of first-class grammar, editing and general writing resources. Sz.

How to edit your text properly

You ought to remove the flab as well as the excess so your reader truly understands your ideas

We are all well aware of the fact that creating something in a draft allows us to lay down the ideas and to clarify the entire structure of what we’re writing. However, the sharpness and the value of the text comes next – when you edit and refine what you want to say.

You ought to remove the flab as well as the excess to allow your reader to truly understand your ideas.

The clarity comes with editing and there’s absolutely no doubt about it. The easiest way to write properly is to edit well. And, when it comes to it, the easiest way to edit properly is to know where you’ve gone wrong. This is not an easy task, though. So, which are the most common mistakes that one makes?

Take a step back

Now, the biggest mistake that inexperienced writers do is they proofread and attempt to edit their text as soon as they’ve finished it. Your brain doesn’t work that way.

Once you are done, your mind is completely and still focused on the text. This means that you are unlikely to catch any spelling mistakes as you would simply read through them. You need to take a few moments and forget about what you just wrote and the way it looks. This would allow you to completely disconnect.

Next, you have to start reading the text from scratch. Do it out loud and read it slowly. Use the same inflection that a regular reader would provide the text with. This way you would be also listening to the flow of the text, allowing you to establish a denser connection and identify even more challenging mistakes.

Wordiness

Now, this is something that’s particularly common in writers who have no significant experience. Those who edit see this throughout the entire time, mainly in descriptions. Adjectives as well as adverbs are used tremendously freely without any serious second thought.

A lot of the first-time writers believe that they just need to bolster their nouns as well as their verbs. Make sure to eliminate those adverbs and adjectives which are describing something that’s easy to deduct or happens naturally. A quick example would include: “the car was speeding through the highway tremendously fast”. The word “speeding” describes the speed with which the car was going and there’s no need to put additional emphasis on it as it makes the entire thing overly worded.

Punctuation

Now, the one entire section which is a complete burden for editors is always punctuation. And, the reason for that is quite simple – there is a lot of flexibility and for the most part you need to be truly invested in what you are reading.

A lot of the punctuation is used to add emotional emphasis as well as to divide and select structures based on their importance for the overall text. This is actually quite important.

Ignoring the spell-check

Yes, we are aware that this might sound a bit on the nose and quite redundant. Use the spell-checker. We are going to put it out there just in case. It sounds like an advice that you’d receive from a teenager when they are writing their first school project. However, you’d be utterly amazed at how many basic and absolutely needless mistakes are done through manufacturing the final manuscript. This could have been picked up by a regular spell checker.

If you want to make sure that everything is handled as per the highest industry standards, we strongly advise taking advantage of the services of an additional tool like these:

In conclusion…

With this in mind, we would like to go back to what said above: editing like a reader. Disconnect yourself from what you just wrote, if you are the author and give it a few moments. Once that’s passed, you should go ahead and make sure that you start reading slowly as if you are reading it poetically to someone else. Imagine yourself in front of a listener and try to create the most impression.

This is going to cause you to stop where it’s convenient. Now, we are not saying that every stop would require a coma or something else, but for the most parts – it would.

Of course, there are quite a lot of other things that you would have to be aware of as editing is not a one-off job. There is a tremendous diversity and the thing that you would have to account for the most is that everyone has their own writing style. This is why it is rather challenging to focus on the objective part of things.

With all this in mind, it is quite important to make sure that everything is handled as per the highest industry standards. There is absolutely no room for error as editing is usually the last layer of defense. This is what you ought to take into serious consideration. This is what you need to account for. If you fail to note the mistakes when editing, this is likely to end up in the hands of the reader.

And, believe us when we tell you, the reader feels no tolerance towards texts which are poorly structured, heavy to read and filled with mistakes of any kind.

There is no room for errors here and that’s just it – all you need to do is to go through the work carefully or let someone else handle it for you. This would at least provide you with the comfort that everything is handled as per the highest standards.

Guest post on HTWB by Lucy Benton

Lucy Benton

Lucy Benton is a writing coach, an editor who finds her passion in expressing own thoughts as a blogger. She is constantly looking for the ways to improve her skills and expertise. Also Lucy has her own blog ProWritingPartner where you can check her last publications. If you’re interested in working with Lucy , you also can find her on FaceBook and Twitter.

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Thoughts

  1. E.Van Johnson. says:

    One habit I have developed which I find useful is to read through and edit out typos before \I start writing again. It has two advantages, highlights obvious mistakes, and put you right back in the story where you left it.

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