Writer’s Advice: Steps for Editing


Last week, I wrote about unlocking your inner editor when you really need her. But once you’ve tuned into your inner editor, where do you go from there? When you’re faced with an editing project, you can feel overwhelmed pretty easily. After having written a first draft, you may not know where to begin when making changes and improvements.

Not too long ago, I found a blog post that presented six simple steps that you can follow when editing a project. Kristen Lamb, an author who writes about writing, has created this great list of editing tips. The first four tips on Kristen’s list point out unnecessary words and exposition that may be cluttering up your writing. These include redundant adverbs, stage direction, movement of body parts, and physiological descriptions. You can find examples of each of these in Kristen’s original post.

Kristen’s final two tips are just pieces of general advice: aim for active voice rather than passive voice and don’t constantly try to vary the “said” tag. Again, more detail explanations of these can be found in the original blog post.

I think all of these tips are very valuable and should be kept in mind if you’re beginning to edit a project. The best part about these steps is that you can do them pretty easily. They’re a good jumping-off point. If you have no idea where to begin, you can begin with these steps. Sometimes having a system within which to work helps your productivity. I’m willing to bet that, as you search for these items to trim from your writing, you’ll find other areas you can improve. Jot those down as you go, so that you know which larger areas to pinpoint when you’ve finished following these six steps.

Personally, I love having a system to start from. If you’re like me, then this system of six editing steps will likely help you begin whatever editing project you need to complete. I hope that this advice helps you, and I wish you luck in your next editing project!

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan

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