Editing: What to Look For

You’ve written a great blog post, article, short story, or poem. Your novel is finished. Congratulations! You want to post it on another website or submit it to a publisher. It’s great to have a plan, whether big or small, for your writing. It’s great to know what you want to achieve and by when. But you should never be hasty – before you do anything else, you need to edit.

We are talking about editing this month. Last time, we discussed a few reasons why editing is an important part of the writing process for anyone who wants to take this art from a casual hobby to a serious, perhaps even a professional, craft. Today, let’s think about what we should be looking for when we are editing our writing.

The best advice I have ever read on this issue is not to edit your own writing, but to get someone else to do it for you. However, it’s not always practical for a beginner to pay for an editor, because this can be expensive. Therefore, we are often forced to edit our own work. It’s vital that when we do this, we know exactly what to look out for.

You may already have an idea of some of the pitfalls of your own writing. Perhaps you find yourself confusing there, they’re and their, or your and you’re. Perhaps you find yourself adding extra letters onto some words, or extra punctuation marks onto the ends of sentences. These are the things that you should immediately think about when I say ‘editing’: spelling, punctuation, and grammar.

You should also look out for repeated words and phrases, and a lack of consistency such as the use of both written numbers (‘one’) and digits (‘1’) in the same piece of writing. Editing allows you to scrutinise not what you have written, but how you have written it, so use it as a chance to fine tune your writing. Be aware of things like paragraph length, structure, and your own writing style (which is probably the hardest part of all). Are you too formal or informal? Should you be using slang there? – and so on.

Editing gives us an opportunity to look back on what we have written and think about how it reads. So take all the time you need to spot those errors, both the major and minor ones, and turn your piece of writing into your masterpiece.

This month’s theme is EDITING. If you have written something that you would like me to share on this blog on the theme of editing, then please post a link in the comments or email me on lauramarieclark1@gmail.com with the subject: Editing.


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