Writing is rewriting, as the saying goes. And while it’s true, do you know what to look for when you read your first draft, or how to improve it?
Here’s what I look for when I edit both my own posts and the work of others:
1. Keep your focus. Do you start by moaning about a cold, move to the merits of a new smoothie you made for breakfast, and end with a recipe for chocolate cake? Stick to a central idea. Make sure your title, lead sentence and body reinforce a specific theme.
2. Review the structure. Are you throat-clearing, which means that the true start of your story is three paragraphs down? Your readers may never get there. Make sure your post’s subjects flow in a logical order. You may need move around paragraphs as a result.
3. Refine and tighten. Think about what you’ve left out or what needs to be fleshed out so readers are not confused by vague writing. This is particularly true of adjectives when describing food. Be specific and avoid overused words. In your overall post, get rid of repetition of ideas, inconsistencies, overstatement (especially too many exclamation points), and disproportionate emphasis.
4. Check the rhythm of your sentences. Is every sentence the same length? Or are they all super short, so that after a while it sounds like you’re on too much caffeine? Go for a mix of sizes and rhythms. Read your work out loud to see if it sounds natural. If you’re gasping for air, that’s a clue to break up your sentences.
5. Sweat the small stuff. Fact check whenever possible, especially names and dates. You don’t want those emails where people point out errors. Put commas in the right places and banish typos. Get rid of exclamation points, ALL CAPS, italics, and ellipses (…) and concentrate on writing without those gimmicks.
6. Wonder if anyone cares. You might look for ties to current events, trends, or subjects that you know are on your readers’ minds. I like to insert links that add value and weight to my post.
7. Check your recipes. If you include a recipe, make sure you’ve listed all the ingredients, and that they are listed in the order used. Don’t even get me started on all the other things that can go wrong, but this one is number one. I’ve written lots about recipe writing here.
Have I left anything out? What do you think about when editing your post?
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- When Your Partner Reads Your Work
- How to Nail Your Opening
(Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)