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Style Chapter 10: Editing
vandanagoyal wrote in visionindia2047
  • All work should undergo thorough editing. No matter how perfect the first draft is, it will always be tighter after good editing.
  • Do not fall in love with all the information you have sweated for. Do not be tempted to cram some more where it is not needed. Reader does not have time to indulge you.
  • You can have the heart of a poet while writing but you should have the heart of a butcher when editing. Go at your work with a hacking knife, not a scalpel. You should be prepared to cut out paragraphs not just words.The fewer words you are able to use to deliver the message, the better chance you have of drawing the reader in and keeping him there.
  •      Some tips to edit your work:  
    • Make sure the writing does not keep the reader waiting too long to tell what you will talk about.
    • That the writing does not make him angry by preaching to him.
    • Make sure it does not give irrelevant details to make him turn around and say 'so what?'
    • Check each paragraph if  (a) it has a topic sentence to say what it is about, (b) it has clear and specific details (c) all other sentences in the paragraph relate to the topic sentence.
    • Put yourself in place of your audience reading the document for the first time. Then judge whether the writing makes sense and if it is interesting from start to finish.
    • Edit after some time has lapsed. You will have a better perspective. Ajay Goyal says "No matter how much I love what I have written today I have come to understand I will dislike it tomorrow and probably hate it next week. I edit articles with next week's perspective."
    • Edit with your ears.  It is easier to detect the flab when you are reading aloud.  To check sentence length, a good test is to see if you can say it in one breath.
    • Do it in print. Only few professional editors can edit on screen. Its best to print a copy and edit with pen.
    • Nothing daunts readers like dense blocks of text. Break the text into as many paragraphs as you can to give space.
    • Confirm that all the names are spelt correctly.
    • It is also good to let someone else read for you. Such editing is an act of humility. It is hard to accept critique of your work. But it can help to detect flaws that you cannot see and bring your thoughts closer to the readers.
    • Edit only after you have finished writing. Editing and writing do not go hand in hand.
  • Writing a good piece is not luck. It takes painstaking editing to nurture the seeds in first drafts. It needs trimming and polishing to create a great final piece. First drafts are often like diamonds in the rough. They need to be cut and polished for them to shine and glitter.
  • Example: This is an article Manglore Mistakes by Trisha Gupta on op-ed page at
  • It is a good example of how good content can be buried in long sentences, blocks of text and confusing punctuation. This is one article that could definitely have done with good editing.  The whole article is three solid pieces of text with run on sentences and numerous quotations.It is so annoying that it takes all your will power to stay with the article even though the writer has a fresh point of view.
©2008 VisionIndia2047


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