First drafts are, usually, rubbish; the words were after all a download. We write every day, blogs, emails, Twitter and Facebook, and how many people read what they have written before pressing send? Writing is a skill that we get better at, because we pause, reflect and edit before pressing the button. Editing your book is a little like writing and editing lots of emails. Take your time. Take care. And don’t press send unless you have taken the time to pause, read, reflect and amend.
My writing always without fail is long winded on first write. I write, leave it and come back and edit like someone was holding a gun to my head. If you don’t need a word, kill it. In fact if you don’t need a whole chapter – ditch it!
Use little words
Use little words that are easy to understand. Not everyone has a dictionary handy to look up your latest intelligent sounding word. In short never use a long word when a short one will do.
Junk the jargon
I know it’s easy to forget that in your industry you have snazzy little names or letters for stuff that you do, make or sell, but the rest of us, don’t have a clue what it is. So please do make it easy for us to understand what you are on about.
Look for repeated words
Word processing products have Thesauruses’, use them. When you review what you have written, look for more suitable simple words. You may need to restructure your sentences, but it will be worth it. I have a horrible habit of using really and simply – what are your words?
I like to read things in small batches. If there aren’t any headings I have a tendency (as you know) to scan read. I will and have missed important points. Please make it easy for me and others to read. Having headings makes it easy to edit as well.
Read and reread
When I think my writing is complete, I change the way in which I read my stuff – on screen, on paper and I get myself a proof book. In this way my mind perceives it slightly differently.
There are many more, but I will save them for another day. Happy editing.