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20 Aug 09 Learning To Edit

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Learning to edit is one of the most important aspects of writing.  As most people will tell you, good writing is in the editing.  It’s not what you want to write, but how you write that makes the largest difference in how your readers will perceive you.  By properly editing a piece you can ensure that you make your points, and maintain an entertaining as well as informative writing style.  That’s the key in the end, you need to titillate as well as inform, if you want people to keep up with what you’re writing.  The key to that always will be reworking your first drafts.

Good writing should be as concise and always to the point as possible.  When you write too much fluff your readers tend to shut off their brains, or worse, get bored and stop reading altogether.  You first edit should focus on how you can take what you’ve written, and formulate it into a shorter piece of work that tells the same story.  Nobody wants to read over inflated paragraphs or multiple sentences that make the same point.

After that, learn your strengths and weaknesses.  If you’re not very descriptive, make sure you spend extra editing time ensuring that your moments of description are fleshed out well enough.  You can’t be too vague, but you also don’t want to over describe to make up for your weakness.  Also learning the areas that you tend to need work on will allow you to target where you should go first when editing a piece.

Get as much feedback from third party sources as possible.  Get a friend to read what you’ve written, or a coworker, or even a family member.  Someone that will provide you with good honest criticism.  We all need honest criticism so that we can grow as people, and writing is no different.  In fact writing ability hinges on your ability to get effective criticism, and incorporate it into your style to become a better writer on the whole.

Finally, always give your piece a read through backwards.  This is especially helpful for noticing little grammatical errors, or punctuation mistakes.  By reading backwards your brain doesn’t concentrate on what the writing means, but just on the words and characters themselves.  This affords you the opportunity to avoid being engaged in what your writing says, instead focusing on how you’ve written each individual portion.

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