I edit work on a weekly basis as deputy editor of ithestylist.co.uk. Magazines and publications have the luxury of a second pair of eyes to proof-read copy. For bloggers, this task falls to them. Here are the best editing tips I have learnt.
Disclaimer: I am not responsible if you notice these mistakes in my work.
Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go – E. L. Doctorow
Cut the clichés
Post New Year’s was awash with this line: “Now that it’s New Year’s, it’s time to start thinking about goals”.
It’s a great event for bloggers to discuss, but you want to stand out from the crowd. Likewise, if you are planning a post on activities in the summer, think about saying something that’s unique. Make a reader feel as though they have to read because nowhere else will give them your insight.
Shorten your intro’s
Introductions are like a secondary title. Just because a reader has clicked on your post, it doesn’t mean they will continue to read.
What’s going to entice a person? Take this introduction paragraph below:
Editing is challenging. Amongst taking photos, writing and marketing, it’s another skill that a blogger has to master. It’s important because spelling mistakes and poor grammar, makes your work look unprofessional. Learning how to edit will make your writing better.
It’s not important. You as a reader have not clicked on this post looking for an editing explaination. You want the editing tips.
Think about what’s gripping to your readers. How will your first few lines work alongside your title?
Get straight into the good stuff. You’re a magician and you need to make others believe in your magic. Are you going to begin with a 5 minute talk on your background, or are you going to whizz out an awesome magic trick?
Be wary of disclaimers
Yes, I added a sarcastic disclaimer to this post. At times they are crucial – giving out professional advice without being a professional.
Disclaimers can also show a lack of confidence. Writing that I should prepare myself for your long post, will make me walk away. If you inform that it’s long-winded and joke that I won’t reach the end – I’m out.
Why? Because I’m time-strapped. I love reading long, informative pieces, however a reader needs easing in. Worrying about time at the start of your post is not positive.
Also, don’t apologise. I want to feel that reading your work is worth it.
The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe – Gustave Flaubert
Shorten long sentences
Guilty – I love a long sentence. Though there is a skill required.
Focus on one point per sentence. For example: Editing is extremely time-consuming so it helps to take a break and revisit in a few days when you are feeling more relaxed and can then check over spelling.
More digestible as: Editing is extremely time-consuming so it helps to take a break. Revisit your work after a few days because you may notice hidden spelling mistakes.
If you go on too much of a ramble, you lose the reader.
Remove fancy words
Remember that episode of Friends when Joey uses the online thesaurus. His speech to Monica and Chandler made no sense.
When you write, you have to consider your audience. A formal publication may welcome complex vocabulary.
If you have written 500 words using a casual tone, you want to avoid randomly adding in a fancy word or two. Writing is not about the amount of terms you know, nevertheless…
Look out for repetition
Because, because, because, because…
Adjectives people! Stop with the ‘really’ and the ‘very’.
‘Rather than’ can become ‘Instead of’. These switches throughout will keep your post feeling fresh.
Cut as many words as possible
My editing tips amount to nothing without this point. Sentences are sharper when you delete ‘unnecessary words’.
“I’m going through Laura’s editing tips and I’m thinking that she has ruined my blogging experience, by making me think about all of these editing points. Why can’t I just write how I want?”
“Going through Laura’s editing tips, I’m thinking: Why can’t I write how I want? She’s ruined my blogging experience”.
Phrases such as: ‘in order to’ are unnecessary.
Read out loud
Skimming silently causes grazing. You flick through sentences – your brain imagines words are in place. By reading out loud, you pick up on the tone and flow of your text.
There are infinite shades of grey. Writing often appears so black and white -Rebecca Solnit
You can see how a person would read. Perhaps there are too many comma’s or not enough. Maybe that long sentence needs slicing.
I hope these editing tips are helpful guide and not a stressful thought. Do you have any editing tips to share? Do you notice how your writing has improved since blogging? If not, I encourage you to look back at your first posts.
If you loved this post, read: Why People Fail at Blogging