One of my hobbies, along with writing, is photography. I like comparing them to each other. For example, unless you are a superb master of photography, who cannot take a perfect photo at once, you will need to process your shots in Photoshop, or use other methods to edit your work. The same is legit for writing: unless you are a genius who can write masterpieces right away, you will have to edit what you have written.
There are nuances, though. In photography, you at least have a backbone, so to say, when you are changing the image in Photoshop. You have a composition, tones, a basic idea—and processing simply helps to emphasize it. When you edit your writing, there is a risk you can unexpectedly change the initial idea, plot, story, characters’ bios, and the very structure of your story. So, here are some tips that will help you edit your writing properly.
1. Some people say it’s good to print out what you’re going to edit first. Others say editing right in the electronic document is more convenient. My opinion is both methods should be combined. First, print out your writing, so you can easily mark places you feel discontent with. Having a printed version in front of your eyes and doing all the editing in the electronic document is easier and faster.
2. When you edit, write the “improved” version of a sentence/paragraph/chapter next to the original one. This way you can compare the old text to the new one, notice the discrepancies, understand how to develop the ideas from the original piece of writing, and so on. Do not edit the original text (I mean, do not erase an older piece of writing, and then write the edited version instead of it)!
3. Read what you wrote aloud. It refers both to older and newer versions of your writing. Reading aloud somehow reveals flaws, helps you understand where the reading flow breaks, and what sounds worse than it should.
4. Take a break. Seriously, do not rush into editing immediately after you finish writing. Let some time pass; usually, as soon as you finish writing, your threshold of critical perception is lower, so you don’t see all the wrongs of your writing. Letting yourself “cool down” will lead to more efficient editing.
5. Check your edited version for mistakes. Surprisingly, there can be even more of them than in the original text, so keep an eye on that!
Good luck with your writing!
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