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Editing and Revising your Writing

After having spent time planning your work, the idea of revisiting it, checking and editing may seem pointless. Don’t be tempted to just print off your work and send it away, or whatever you plan to do with it. It is imperative that you check your work and re-read everything. This is known as ‘proofreading’ and Editing and Revising your writing is key. In this post, we’ll explain why and how to do it correctly.

You will be amazed at how you will want to change it and how you can improve it. Never try to proofread, edit or revise immediately after you have finished writing your article. Writing really is a process and revision is the magic within that process. The revision process will breathe energy into your words. Just listen to Obert Skye about “The Magic Of Revision” at a TEDxIdahoFalls meeting:

If you have other writing projects running, move onto one of them and start writing on a different subject. This will allow you to ‘forget’ the article somewhat. This will be invaluable when you go to re-read it. Most writers find it best to leave a few days between writing an article and revisiting it, for this reason. If time is of the essence then most writers believe you should leave a minimum of 30 minutes before proofreading your work.

If you try to revisit it immediately, you will find it very difficult to improve the prose or even to find errors. Your mind will be telling you what you believe you wrote instead of allowing you to see what is actually written on the page and it also helps to make a good outline for your college paper!

What you should check for:

  • spelling
  • ambiguity
  • grammatical errors
  • consistency of tense
  • verbosity or redundant words
  • factual inaccuracies or contradictions.

Since it’s your own work, you can afford to be very critical. Cut out any paragraphs, or words that don’t add value to the article or may cause confusion. Ask yourself: have you achieved what you set out to achieve? Is your writing clear? Could it be read in more than one way? Is there too much, or too little of it?

It is important that you practice revising your writing and experiment with changing the length and rhythm of your paragraphs and sentences without losing or changing the original intent. If you intend to sell your work, many editors will require articles or stories of specific lengths. This may mean you have to be more efficient with your wording. Editing, revising and proofreading your writing will allow you to do this.

Automated Checkers

Most software applications or word processing packages, that you will be using, have some kind of automated checking or assistance tools built-in. These include things like spell-checkers, grammar checkers or even a thesaurus. Most writers embrace the value of these tools and rely upon them to help keep the quality of their writing high. Some, however, see the modern over-reliance upon them as a contributing factor in a degrading general literacy standard. If you’re like me, and you see them as a valuable tool to assist you, if used properly and wisely, then there are a few things you need to remember. Don’t fall into the trap of believing they are the key to curing every writing ill.

But you’ve still got to be a bit of a hustler and put your brain to work. Have a look at some points concerning computer spell-checkers and grammar checkers that you will need to bear in mind.

Version Control

When you’re in the process of updating, editing and revising your work, it’s always advisable to try and retain old versions of your work. If you’re a technical writer or freelancer, this is particularly important, as you never know when you might need to revert to an older version. Have a look at our page on version control for more information and ideas.

Getting Published

For the aspiring author, one basic aspect of the writing business, recognized as one of the most difficult, is getting your work published. Not all of us will be authors and mostly will use these tips for writing our college papers but still…

Despite this being one of the most basic aspirations of any writer, the sheer volume of work and manuscripts submitted to literary agents and traditional publishers makes it very difficult to succeed quickly, if at all.

This has forced the publishing market to evolve, especially in recent times, giving aspiring authors more options for getting their work published: some replacing, and some complementing, the traditional route via agents or publishing houses.

For some, getting published can take many years of effort and tireless attempts through different publishers specializing in many different writing genres. As a result, some writers may never succeed via traditional methods and so an increasing number are turning to alternative routes to achieve their goal.

A quick tour around some of the most popular writers’ forums on the internet will show you that getting published is now, and has always been, a hot topic of discussion, with many budding writers seeking guidance from those who have succeeded in being published.

Have a look at WritingForums.com for a typical example of such an online community with many varied discussion topics, including how to get published. You shouldn’t be entirely despondent though, as a great many writers do have their works published every day and the effort can pay dividends in the long run.

Use the guidance on offer from writers’ forums and from publications like The Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook to help ensure that you target suitable publishers, likely to be looking for your type of material.

If you would like to find out about the most well-known alternative publishing options at the moment, the links below will give you an insight into what each method is and roughly how it works. Only once you understand the advantages and disadvantages of each approach, will you be able to decide if they are suitable for your needs.