3 effective editing tips

The Internet is full of articles and people who want to teach you. Useful advice is given freely in copious quantities. Checking the term ‘editing tips’ results in links to 7, 8, 15 or 25 tips for better writing on the first page. I’ve looked through all of them – they provide fantastic tools.
Do we need another list?
My preference is to keep it simple. Being a novice in any area I want to learn slowly – three simple tips that make a big difference. Once I’ve learned and practiced and internalised the first three tips I’ll go onto the next three. Confronted with a list of 7 or 25 editing tips makes the task too daunting, I might as well give up now.
My basic editing tips for the novice blogger  / writer are to check the text three times:
Editing Tip 1: Take out ‘very’
How often does ‘very’ appear in your text? Every word strengthened with ‘very’ can be replaced with stronger one:
very hungry   = starving
very tired       = exhausted
very windy     = stormy
very good       = excellent
Very detracts from your message. Few readers read every word on the page; they scan. A text containing ‘the meeting was very boring’ might be read as ‘the meeting was very’. Asked ‘How was the meeting?’ the reader might recall that the meeting was very something, but not if it was very boring or very good.

=> Don’t use very. Scan your text, cut out all very – you don’t need it. If the ‘very’ intends to strengthen the word find a word that is stronger.
Editing Tip 2: Scan for nouns ending with -ion
Using a noun plus a verb when a verb alone will do complicates the text.  We use the verb make, take, is, and add a noun. Yet, we can shorten three words into one:
make a decision                     = decide
take into consideration         = consider
conduct an investigation      = investigate
The –ion noun has its place, yet more often than not we can shorten our writing by taking all supporting verbs – to make, to take etc. – out, and use the direct verb instead of to make + noun.
Editing Tip 3: here & there
Search the text for all here and there.  Commonly used in conversations these fillers are traps for the unwary writer:

  • Here, there and it plus verb complicate the text and use more words than necessary: 
    • There are many reasons that editing makes sense = editing makes sense => 9 words instead of 3
    • Here are 3 editing tips for you to consider = consider 3 editing tips => 10 words instead of 4


  • Filler words complicate the grammar. Commonly used spoken expressions are often grammatically wrong:

Here’s some facts for you to consider:
The noun ‘facts’ is plural, yet the verb is singular. The correct version of the sentence is ‘here are some facts for you to consider’.

‘Consider the following facts’ is clear, correct and condenses the essential information into 4 instead of 8 words.

Start with these three ways to improve your writing. Let me know how you are getting on - and if you have particular challenges or specific questions please contact me. I'm happy to answer your questions, and I'm always looking for useful blog topics.  

Hella Bauer is a freelance writer, copywriter, copyeditor and trainer – she can write for you, copyedit your text or coach you to improve your writing. Contact Hella on hella@hellabauer.com or 027-491 7670.

writing, AllHella Bauer