Editing Tips to Benefit Your Readers

“Not that the story need be long, but it will take a long while to make it short.”
– Henry David Thoreau –

It is always easier to edit someone else’s writing. We’re emotionally invested in our own words, wanting to hoard them and take ownership of them.

The thing is, you don’t need to justify anything you write. I often see words and phrases like this which can be completely eliminated:

  • “I want to say that…” or “I want to let you know that…” or “I want you to know…”
  • “It’s my opinion…” or “I personally think/feel that…”
  • “… of mine” (as in “friends of mine” or “colleagues of mine”)
Then there are those phrases and even whole paragraphs that should be about the reader instead of the writer:
  • “I’m planning to…” or “I’ll send you…” Try starting with “you” instead, as in, “You’ll receive…” You can often eliminate many “I”s from an article.
  • And the reasons or excuses for anything should be left out completely. You wouldn’t stand up to give a speech and start with, “I’m not a very good speaker.”
Here’s another tip: when editing, ask “So what?” at the end of every sentence. Your brain needs to be thinking creatively when you’re writing but critically when you’re editing.

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