Make your Writing Slim and Sassy

There are few things more frustrating than writing something, getting to the end and being thoroughly under-whelmed by your work.

Editing can seem like an almost impossible task. And we are more than familiar with that tired sigh that shortly follows the exhilaration of finishing a piece.

Even the best writer needs to edit. The first thing to do is to give it a little bit of space and come back to it with fresh eyes.

Judging your own work can be really difficult, so the longer you leave it the easier it will be to see the flaws in it.

No one’s first draft is perfect, and with this in mind we have put together a list of seven actionable tips to think about when you edit.

1. Spell check

What

This is always on top of my list. Poorly spelt and grammatically incorrect writing really is, intolerably off-putting.

Action

CHECK YOUR WRITING.

Put it through spell check in word and then read it through, slowly.

2. Check your language

What

Do your words send the message you want to convey, accurately and concisely? Do you repeat words or phrases?

Action

Where possible replace over used words with synonyms that display an ability to use a broad range of language effectively.

3. Cut the Flab

What

Often when writing a first draft I find that I pad-out my more salient points with what I can only describe as waffle.

Action

You want to cut out any unnecessary words and make sure you aren’t saying the same thing in two different ways. Also, this comes down to efficient word choices, so you should naturally do a little bit of this when you act on point two.

4. Add examples or a vivid explanation where your content feels abstract

What

You might be struggling to convey exactly what you mean, and so find it necessary to repeat yourself.

Action

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Depending on the purpose of your writing and the audience, there are better ways to get around describing a more abstract point. Using like examples is an easy way to drive your point home. But using vivid detailed language could be a better approach at times.

5. Pay attention to smooth transitions from sentence to sentence, and from paragraph to paragraph

What

Your writing should flow, drawing the reader all the way to the end.

Action

Something I find very useful is to read my writing back to myself out loud. Even better is to have someone else listen. If there are any awkward transitions they will become immediately obvious, if not to you, then to whomever you are reading to.

6. Remove gobbledygook

What

You want to sound human, but when you speak it is natural to use fillers, and incorrect sentences or grammar. In writing these things don’t go unnoticed, and read awkwardly.

Action

This is another thing that normally doesn’t pass the reading aloud test. Rephrase sentences where necessary, or simply remove any section that isn’t immediately coherent.

7. Play with your language

What

You want people to read your writing? Then they need to enjoy your writing, add some spice and flavour.

Action

When you are going through and changing your language, try using emotional, sensory, or unusual words to add a dash of personality.

One thing I like to remember when doing this stage is thinking about the human senses. We don’t just see the world visually, so whilst visual description is important you should always try and back up your visual description with the other senses.

 

Conclusion

Don’t get disheartened. There is a diamond in there somewhere, you just need the patience to make it shine.

These seven steps should help you realise the full potential on your writing. However, I would love to hear your tips so please leave any thoughts in the comment section below.

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