Write Now: Use A 2nd Pair Of Eyes When Editing

Between the black dots is an example of a compound-complex sentence from “Absalom, Absalom!” by William Faulkner (Faulkner, William. Absalom, Absalom!: the Corr. Text. Vintage, 1990).

You have revised your writing, so that now you are comfortable with it.

Now it’s crunch time.

Well, let’s say editing time.

Editing is where you check for spelling, grammar, and punctuation. You are probably thinking that you had already checked for those items when you were revising. And maybe you did, but did you make any changes? Sometimes a writer will gloss over his revision because the writer thinks that the revision will suffice. Another thing that a writer may think is that because he is revising his writing, he will catch his mistakes and fix them. This is true to a degree, but a second pair of eyes may help with the editing task.

Do not take the editing step lightly. The editing step is important because it’s the final copy to be published. Once the copy is published in print, it is very hard to get any mistakes or different edits made. A good point about the Internet is that any copy that has a mistake and is posted can be edited and reposted. But if you find copy on the Internet that has been edited or changed several times, then one may not trust the writer. One exception to this dilemma is writing for a news gathering organization. I say this because if a story is breaking, the reporter is trying to gather facts and other pieces of information in a live setting. As he finds out more information, spelling, punctuation and grammar may change with editing. So if a reporter files a story at 11 a.m., by 1:30 p.m. a new version may be written because more information is received and the editing step begins again.

With other types of writing, most of the facts, spellings, and other information are already known, the writer, so he checks for consistency.

According to www.dailywritingtips.com/the-writing-process/, “the editing stage is distinct from revision, and needs to be done after revising. Editing involves the close-up view of individual sentences and words. It needs to be done after you’ve made revisions on a big scale: or else you could agonize over a perfect sentence, only to end up cutting that whole paragraph from your piece.”

When editing, go through your piece line by line, and make sure that each sentence, phrase and word is as strong as possible.

The site suggests that these are some things to check:

¯ Have you used the same word too many times in one sentence or paragraph? Use a thesaurus to find alternatives.

¯ Are any of your sentences hard to understand? Rewrite them to make your thoughts clear.

¯ Which words could you cut to make a sentence stronger? Words like “just” “quite,” “very,” “really” and “generally” can often be removed.

¯ Are your sentences grammatically correct? Keep a careful look out for problems like subject-verb agreement and staying consistent in your use of the past, present or future tense .

¯ Is everything spelled correctly? Don’t trust your spell-checker — it won’t pick up every mistake. Proofread as many times as necessary.

¯ Have you used punctuation marks correctly? Commas often cause difficulties.

Using the same word in a sentence or paragraph is problematic because one may lose the reader. There are some occasions where this rule can be broken because the writer wants to be clear, and repeating a word makes sure the writer doesn’t end sounding vague. Earlier in this article, I used the word copy, which refers to words. Copy is a word or words that will be printed or posted to an Internet site. Copy is used for two different mediums.

For clarity, write clear, and concise sentences. It’s nice to use a compound-complex sentences, but they tend to be long. If you would like to see an example of a compound-complex sentence in use, read “Absalom, Absalom!” by William Faulkner (Faulkner, William. Absalom, Absalom!: the Corr. Text. Vintage, 1990). In some parts of his book, a sentence can extend almost two pages, and be grammatically correct. Check Pages 144 and 145 of the Vintage Books addition and you will see what I mean. For now just stick to simple sentences and compound sentences.

Both types will get your point across.

Don’t use extra words. Bullet three gives some examples. I am guilty of using the word just in my writing. But when I go back and revise and edit, I find it just can be removed. Be mindful of your subject-verb agreement. This is a point in which many beginning writers have trouble. Here is an example. One of their members are going to the show. It looks and sounds correct, but a closer look reveals that subject “One” is singular, and the verb “are” is plural. To be correct, make the verb agree with the subject. It can be done this way: One of their members is going to the show. “Of their members” is a prepositional phrase and can be set off by commas or removed from the sentence to make it easier to understand. One, of their members, is going to the show. One is going to the show.

If you don’t feel comfortable editing your own work, then find a someone you trust to proofread, and edit your words.

It’s that easy.

It’s that hard.

Get ready for the next step — publishing.