After nearly three decades in the writing business, I’ve learned to appreciate the improvements editing can bring to a written document and although it’s sometimes intense work, it’s also crucially important.
Good editing results in a solid, well-written document that presents a strong impression of the writer and his or her organization; writing that rambles makes the writer seem disorganized and ineffective. This is no surprise to news organizations and publishing houses who keep reams of editors on staff to ensure the articles they handle:
- read smoothly
- make sense and
- maximize audience appeal.
While the writers themselves are credited with the writing, it’s often the editors who have corrected the piece into shape through careful linguistic nudging. News and book businesses view editing as a standard procedure but it’s a practice that can help any organization with a reputation to protect.
An editor takes a demanding look at every letter, word and paragraph to ensure each one supports organizational objectives. Editors correct for:
- clarity and
- audience appeal
We’re all on a continuum of writing ability and an editor’s task is not to judge someone else’s writing skills; rather the focus should be on fine tuning the writing itself to ensure the writer and his or her ideas are presented in the absolute best light possible. The editor’s focus should be on helping the originator unleash their own success and trust is key.
Editing is detailed work to be sure and when I’m in the editor’s chair I usually pass over the work numerous times in order to layer in different sets of considerations.
Here’s how I divvy my attention:
First pass: check for grammar and sentence structure to ensure the piece reads smoothly overall.
Second pass: ensure the piece is well organized and logically sound.
Third pass: fine-tune the language to maximize audience appeal.
Fourth pass: delete as many words as possible to declutter every sentence.
If I’m not staring at a deadline at that point I tend to go over the work a few extra times for good measure just to make sure I haven’t missed any opportunities to improve the language. (Editing can be an obsessive venture!)
While editing requires a fine eye for detail and an ability to focus intently over long periods of time, it can be tremendously rewarding work, especially when the end result supports someone’s reputation or inspires commitment on their behalf. While strong writing is a key ingredient in communicating with clarity, a writing project will pass or fail on the strength of its editing: excellence always shows up in the details.
Want to learn more about how I can use my editing skills to help your writing project? Contact me today.