Even the best writers in the world rely on editors to help shape their writing. An editor, like a good stylist, will not hack away at chunks of your work, but rather shape a page gently in order to style it into the perfect piece it was meant to be.
A close friend of mine does a lot of editing work and has told me that seeing the first draft of some of the world’s most amazing writers would astound you, and would not at all be what you imagine it would. It is only after detailed editing, and many revisions, that amazing books begin to take on their true form. Though there will always be edits that need to be made, below are a few common mistakes that can save both you, and your editor, time and energy.
Common Mistakes You Can Fix Now to Save Time Later
- Keep your sentences simple – Elaborate sentences are fine for formal papers, medical or technical writing, or pieces that call for such writing styles, but if you are aiming at a broad audience it is important that your writing be clear and concise. Say what you need to in as little words as possible and keep it to the point. Detail is a wonderful thing, but overuse of detail is one of the most common writing mistakes editors see.
- The same goes for your paragraphs – The same rule applies to the entire paragraph, it is best to stick to one point per paragraph and make it as easy to read as possible. A reader does not want to see a paragraph that runs on for four pages and jumps all over the map. This is an especially important rule for online writing where readers tend to skim rather than read in detail. Keep your thoughts to a minimum and stick to one main point. Breaking up your paragraphs will allow for easier flow and more detail in the long-run than if you had rambled on and on for several lines.
- Nix the unnecessary words – If it can be said with fewer words say it with fewer words. For example: He has no sense of responsibility could be better written as He is irresponsible. Less is often more when it comes to writing, avoid throwing in words just to up your count, consider whether or not they actually add to the sentence before including them in the piece.
- Watch your passive voice – For many beginning writers this is a difficult rule to adhere to, I myself have not fully grasped the real use of the passive voice, all this rule means is to be aware of what you are writing. When writing a sentence that has an action involved be sure the ‘person’ is the beginning of the sentence and not the action. (eg: Why was the road crossed by the Chicken?) You can find out more about the passive voice Here as I am not going to pretend to be an expert on the topic myself. This is apparently a very common mistake that editors see and thus, need to correct costing time and effort that could have been avoided.
- Write, Read, Edit, Re-Read, Edit again – Before you submit any form of writing to anyone be sure that you have read, edited, re-read, and edited it again. There is nothing more annoying, I am sure, than reading a piece full of simple, avoidable errors. Spelling, basic grammar and other simple errors that could be caught with a simple reading of the piece should be caught by you. Editors see thousands of pieces of work and these tiny errors could make or break your chances. Better to be safe than sorry.
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