5 tips for improving your writing and self-editing
Today’s guest post on improving your writing and self-editing comes from Chloe Bennet.
Editing your own work can be difficult, but there are ways to be successful at it and improve your writing.
Learn from the work of authors you like and dislike. Learn to get into the process of using different stages of editing.
Follow these tips to improve your writing and self-editing.
Study other authors’ work
One of the best ways to improve your writing is by paying attention to what some of your favorite authors do.
You’re definitely going to be influenced by these people anyway, but it’s valuable to try and break down exactly what it is about their writing that you enjoy so much.
It also helps to take the same approach to writers you don’t enjoy.
“Try and figure out what it is about their style that makes you want to put their book down and find something else. What is it that’s boring you or annoying you? The more of these positive and negative elements you’re able to identify, the more tools you’ll have to improve your own work,” suggests Albert Held, editor at Book Report Writing.
Check your punctuation
Punctuation is one of the most overlooked aspects of writing, and commas are something people misuse frequently.
Placing a comma in the wrong spot can completely change the meaning of your sentence. One place where writers often forget to place them is in speaker tags.
Don’t fall for the trap of thinking little things like commas and apostrophes aren’t important, or your writing will suffer for it.
It’s also possible to overdo it on punctuation. The most commonly overused punctuation mark is the exclamation mark, particularly in dialogue.
Any time you find yourself using it, question whether it’s actually necessary for the character to be exclaiming.
More often than not, it’s not needed.
Decide what level of editing you’re on
There are different types of editing, and your approach will be very different depending which one you’re doing.
Developmental editing is all about fleshing out your plot, shaping characters, and determining things like pacing.
The next level of editing is called line editing. During this stage your goal is to make sure the writing has the kind of flow that will keep your reader engaged.
Copyediting is the level of editing where grammar, spelling and punctuation errors are found and corrected.
The final stage is proofreading, where you find any remaining errors before sending out your finished product.
The most important thing is to know what you’re looking for and focus on that level of edit before moving on.
Watch out for commonly misused words
Pay attention to your word choice, because there are quite a few words people misuse.
Often people will misuse words because the correct word sounds odd or out of place and replace it with a word that sounds more natural but is incorrect. An example is using “hone in on” rather than “home in on.”
Many commonly misused words, such as nonplussed and bemused, are best not used at all. They are easy to use improperly and even when used correctly, many people will not know their actual meaning.
While we’re on the subject of words to avoid, let’s talk about ten dollar words. These are fancy sounding words that people rarely use in an actual conversation, such as proleptic and myriad.
Part of writing is coming up with different words to say the same meaning, but you should still avoid these ten dollar words.
Access some online writing tools
Grammar and editing all on your own can be difficult, so it’s a good idea to get some help from the pros.
Here are some good resources you can use to improve your writing:
SimpleGrad and LetsGoandLearn: Check out these writing guides and see how much more organized and easier your writing process will become. The key to good writing and editing is making your way through the steps of a writing process.
Editing your own work can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. There are strategies you can use to focus on different elements of your writing and ensure you don’t miss anything.
Watch out for your punctuation and be mindful of commonly misused words. Follow the above five tips to improve your writing and self-editing.
About the author
Chloe Bennet is a content manager at Academized and Paper Fellow services. She helps with content research, editing, and proofreading.
Bennet also teaches academic writing at OX Essays website.