Just as how the princess in the story “The Princess and the Pea” was hypersensitive and utterly bothered by a single pea buried in her pile of mattress, similarly while editing you should also be hyper-aware of any potential mistakes in your content.
Unfortunately, writers tend to form a sense of attachment to their work and this clouds the editing process.
Here at Script Consultants, we’ll show you how to improve your writing with these editing guidelines.
1. Take a break
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This is perhaps the hardest step of all – to walk away and deprive yourself of the satisfaction of finally publishing the piece you’ve been working on. It’s a dangerous balance between being efficient and experiencing tunnel vision. Ultimately, what matters is the effectiveness of your content so it’s important to slow down and realistically evaluate the urgency of what you’re working on.
If you’re way ahead of the deadline, it’s beneficial for you to take the day off and divert your attention on something else. By establishing some distance from your original draft, you’ll come back to your writing with a fresh perspective and spot errors you would have otherwise missed.
2.Cut out “fluff”
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“Fluff” writing is like fast food – filling but unwholesome. You could easily create content that’s all “fluff” but readers will be left unsatisfied. Ultimately, an effective copy is like a meal from a Michelin Star Restaurant – excellent craftsmanship made with nutritious ingredients that’ll guarantee a repeated visit.
Here’s how you could cut out “fluff”:
- Come out with an outline: If you write without a plan, you’ll have a greater likelihood of going off tangent. An outline ensures that your writing is concise and effectively conveys your brand message.
- Write in an active voice: Just as how the active voice focuses on the subject performing an action, similarly content marketing is about creating a call for action. Rather than beating around the bush, writing in an active voice directly conveys the intentions of your copy.
- Don’t cripple your writing with weak adverbs: Weak adverbs such as “very” and “really” are empty phrases that should be replaced with words of greater intensity. You’re not just “very tired” but are “exhausted”.
- Tell us something we don’t know: Even if the content is well-written and succinct, it’s still considered fluff if it’s reiterating information that’s simply common knowledge.
3.Read out loud
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By silently internalising your writing, your eyes have a tendency of glossing through the paragraphs and you’re less likely to notice any mistakes. So don’t be shy, read your work out loud and your ears could help pick up what your eyes have missed.
Here’s why reading out loud improves your writing:
- Identifying areas that need improvement: Reading out loud forces you to slow down and focus on every word so you’re more likely to pick out any spelling errors or grammar mistakes.
- The flow of the content: Reading out loud allows you to have a better understanding of the flow of your content. Words and sentence structure should flow seamlessly which is an essential component that improves the target audiences’ understanding of your brand message.
- Humanizes your writing: Reading out loud incorporates a conversational aspect into your content. This is significant as your target audience are more likely to resonate with your content and this spurs conversions.
4. Read in reverse
By this final stage of self-editing, you’re exceedingly familiar with your own writing and any potential mistakes are more likely to be overlooked.
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As your eyes get use to reading from top to bottom, disrupting the narrative flow is an effective means of editing as you’re now more mentally alert to spot any mistakes. This unconventional tactic overrides your brain’s tendencies to “auto-correct” any mistakes as you read through your content.
Reading word for word in reverse allows you to efficiently spot any spelling mistakes as you’re no long distracted by the context of your writing. Furthermore, you could repeat the process by reading sentence by sentence to double check that each sentence makes perfect sense on its own.
5.Seek out feedback
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Once you’ve exhausted your endurance of editing your own work, it’s always helpful to seek out feedback from a trusted outsider. It’s easier for someone who’s not familiar with the content to spot any mistakes you’ve missed. Moreover, a fresh pair of eyes provides a new perspective which is an excellent opportunity for you to test if you’ve effectively conveyed your brand message.
Ultimately, editing is an important aspect of your content marketing efforts. Take the time to practice these editing tips and make sure that your brand message is effectively conveyed.
Written by: (www.script.com.sg) Edited & Illustrated by: Script Consultants Pte Ltd