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The term editing comes from Latin “redactus” that means “sorted out”, “fixed”, “arranged”. Editing is always aimed at making a text maximally adequate and easy to perceive, making it correspond to particular norms, and presenting it as a coherent completed system.
As a stand-alone activity editing has been formed in book publishing and represents analysis, evaluation and improvement of a text. The main features of a professional editor are a robust sense of language, high speech culture, good knowledge of literary norms, basics of stylistics, and so on.
Editor’s work is, first of all, elimination of various mistakes and inaccuracies. Conditionally they may be divided into three groups:
If your occupation makes your often (or sometimes) create texts, it is nice if you know this classification of mistakes and, when checking a text, pay attention to these three groups. Even if you use editor’s assistance, it is better to understand how your text has been improved.
That is why, in this post, we want to fill in the gap and tell about some subtleties of editing that we, as professionals, know. We are going to speak about what minimum set of actions a text author should do before showing his / her text to anyone to make a text look presentable.
The issue of editing is complicated by well-known ambivalence of the process. On one hand, there is nothing difficult – just read and fix mistakes. On the other hand, there are so many subtleties and nuances that it is even hard to imagine all of them. So this is what we are going to speak about.
Editing is a must! If you have created a text, do not think that it can be immediately published on the internet or presented to your friends (who are absolutely not ready for your writing talent). Be merciful, review your text at least a couple of times, fix grammatical mistakes, put commas, correct inaccuracies. These are the minimum requirements for any aspiring writer.
Editing is an extensive process that covers different levels of a text. Conditionally the process can be divided into the following levels: editing of a whole text, a separate chapter, a paragraph and a sentence. At every level, there are specific requirements and points to correct. It is important to realize that if you edit every sentence separately, it does not mean that you do not need to edit a paragraph.
What is required for editing? We believe there are two obligatory tools:
Also, in the beginning, you will not do without a grammar manual. Later, when you gain experience, you will manage to define on your own what tools are necessary for you.
You can often hear that it is necessary to start editing only in a couple of weeks letting a text “rest” and cleaning one’s mind. This statement is true but only partially. Do not forget that some mistakes and flaws should be fixed immediately. That is why we recommend rereading a text several times right after writing, performing obvious adjustments and corrections, and then, you can lay a text aside for some time.
We guarantee that the next time you open a text, you will not feel that unpleasant feeling of self-mediocrity, which many writers experience when reading their own works. You will experience much better feelings.
This is the most common and usual type of editing that most writers do. It is sad that many of them (especially beginners) do not proceed to other editing levels.
Editing within a separate sentence achieves maximum accuracy of thought expression. The following techniques are used for this purpose:
Now let’s discuss each point in more detail.Getting rid of verbal trash
Getting rid of verbal trash is the first and simplest stage of editing. What do we mean saying “trash”? This is the words and phrases that can be painlessly removed from a sentence without any loss of meaning, and also, expletives. Here is an approximate list: pronouns (it, its, their, your / yours, my / mine and so on), introductory words (in general, in other words, so, eventually, etc.), and many others depending on circumstances.Selection of synonyms
This is the second most important procedure. The selection of synonyms allows fighting repetitions, tautologies, unnecessary cognate constructions, and also, choosing the most accurate word to express author’s idea. A dictionary of synonyms is a great helper in this case.Correct order of words in a sentence
When we put the words in correct order, we try to meet two important objectives. First, we keep rhythm and melody of a text. If you do not like how a sentence sounds, try to change the order of words. Usually, this trick is enough to find the required harmonious combination. Second, correct word order makes appropriate meaning emphasis. They say that, in a sentence, usually the most important word is placed in the end.
When editing a paragraph, first of all, it is necessary to follow up on the development of an action or an idea. A paragraph is not just a set of sentences but a meaning block of a text that presents a well-thought-out plan, thought or emotion. Ideally, it is required from a paragraph to have cohesion of statement, but on practice authors do not pay much attention to such details, and as a consequence, paragraphs look discombobulated, or in other words, they look like a mess.
We urge you to treat paragraphs more carefully, to try to present them as a coherent completed text unit, especially when it goes about descriptions.
Another relevant problem is repetitions. Due to a poor vocabulary the aspiring authors often use the same words and constructions that cause weird effect when they are used together. Besides, no one has cancelled the check of a text for rhythmical inaccuracies. In this case, correct word order and selection of synonyms will help.
Sometimes it can be useful to divide one big complex sentence into a couple of small or, vice versa, to combine a couple of short sentences into a big one. However, here, first of all, it is necessary to be guided by the style and writing manner of an author. Some writers prefer short and chopped sentences, others prefer long and verbose ones.
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Everyone should know that editing deals, except for text content, with its structure. In a separate chapter, it is required to build a clear and logic chain of material presentation. In this case, a good basis is a previously prepared plan. Of course, a plan is not something that cannot be changed. Sometimes, in the process of writing, we can make up some sudden turn that will perfectly fit in the text, and then, it will be necessary to make corrections in the text and its plan.
It all means that if necessary we can add, rewrite, or remove from a text whole paragraphs and episodes. For an aspiring writer, it is very important to get used to treat a text as building material, as clay, and not be afraid to remove or fix already written and checked episodes if they do not match a general concept. It is also not acceptable to overdo with the text size.
General editing of a text implies work with the content and plan. Of course, ideally, you should prepare everything in advance – a well-thought-out content and a plan, based on which you will write a text. However, when they are ready, there might be necessary to fix something, for example, to rewrite a closing part or introduce a new idea. It is possible, just do not be afraid of changing already written text.
Today everyone got used to write clean off. We write something, look quickly through the text once, and rush to publish it. In the meantime, a previous generation of writers was not ashamed of rewriting their texts, sometimes even dozen of times. This is right because the more you work on a text, the more you immerse in it and have the opportunity to look at the topic from different sides, to present it from different points of view, and so on.
There is no wonder that in some time we can see more that remains hidden for a cursory glance. So why not redo a text sacrificing its initial idea to turn it into something new, unusual, deeper and better, in general? Of course, we do not insist, but someone else’s look at your text is always helpful.
That is it for now. Unfortunately, within a single post it is difficult to tell about all the subtleties of editing and give many examples. Otherwise, a post would turn into a book. However, this article presents useful information, especially for aspiring writers, it will help them move in a right direction and pay attention to some not so much obvious points, about which many of them often forget.
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