Friday, July 06, 2007

Editing your work

When I wrote this piece, I was aiming it at high school students. However, the information can help anyone whether they're still at school, at university or (like me) are well and truly out of the education system.

Remember, that if you'd like to borrow any of my articles for your own web-site or simply to pass along to a friend, take my bio as well. My name and the url to Beginnings, Middles, Ends is fine. If you want more, grab a full bio from my profile.
cheers all

Editing your work.

You've done the research. You have pages full of writing. The next step is to edit all your words into a manageable, easy to read work that not only covers all the requirements of the assignment, it leaves the teacher smiling.

You'll need two things: highlighter pens in different colours and the ability to be ruthless.

1. Print your work out and then read through the whole piece.

2. Read through it again, but this time highlight the points that directly relate to the assignment question.

3. Read again and, with a different colour pen, highlight the paragraphs that support your answers or arguments. Hopefully, this will include an introduction and conclusion, but don't worry too much if it doesn't. You can add them in later.

4. Go back to your computer, open up your workfile and click "save as". Change the name of the file slightly by calling it "edit1" or "draft1" - whatever works for you really - but keep the original title in the new name.

5. In your newly named copy, delete all the sections that are not highlighted on your print out.

6. Start again with your new streamlined piece and this time, correct any clunky sentances, repetitions, overly passive statements, weak sentance beginnings, etc

7. Make sure your arguments are strong.

8. Polish off the intro and conclusion, or write them now if they didn't survive the first cut. Your intro should answer the questions and show how you plan to support your answers. The conclusions should show how you answered and supported your answers.

9. Print it out and read through again. Highlight anything that still needs adjusting.

10. With any luck this is your final draft. Make adjustments according to your last brush with the highlighters. Read it. Yes, again! Make sure it says what the teacher wants it to say. If it does and you're happy with it, add your name to the top, print it out and take it to the teacher.

You're done!


Mike French said...

The best advice I got on editing in general was from a book recommended by Stephen King called The Elements of Style by William Strunk and E B White, which was:

Omit all your needless waffly words

er sorry I mean ...

Omit needless words.

Beginnings, Middle and Ends said...

lol - I think waffly words are quite possibly the bane of most writers.