5 Ways Writers Can Become Better Editors

Once you’ve finally finished writing your book, it’s time to edit it. As Stephen King wrote: “To write is human, to edit is divine.”

Many writers are worried about editing, but luckily, editing skills can be learned. Read on to learn which editing skills you’ll need to master so you can be a great editor.

1. Create stronger word choice

Strong words are usually direct and often short.

Removing qualifiers will help you with stronger word choices. Instead of writing “extremely angry,” use “furious.” Remove words like hardly, barely, extremely, and very.

Replace wishy-washy words like “kind of” and “maybe” and stick to your guns. Think about what you’re trying to say, and say it with confidence.

Remember that stronger doesn’t necessarily mean longer. There’s little point using an impressive, long word if few people will understand what it means. The average American reads at a 7th or 8th-grade level.

2. Sharpen your grammar skills

Many writers may not understand all of the grammar rules, but they’ve read enough to know when something “sounds wrong.”

But it’s crucial to understand at least the key parts of grammar. This will allow you to know when you need to follow them, and when you can get away with breaking them.

Many schools aren’t teaching the grammar skills they used to. If your grammar skills are rusty, consider taking a grammar class so you can get back up to date.

3. Learn to eliminate wordiness

Beginner writers often write long, run-on sentences. Sometimes this is because ideas come to them as they’re writing. And some assume (incorrectly) that writing complex sentences will help them sound more authoritative.

Shorter sentences often have a greater impact. See where you can break up sentences to make paragraphs easier to read.

You’ll also need to watch out for redundant wording. This is common when writers are describing something: “Ben is a comical, hilarious person.” Both of these words say that Ben is funny. One of them needs to go.

4. Use transitions effectively 

While you should assume your readers are intelligent, you should never assume that they know what you know.

Some transition words include:

  • However
  • Still
  • Therefore
  • Meanwhile
  • Instead
  • Yet
  • But
  • Now
  • In addition
  • Today
  • Later
  • Nevertheless
  • Subsequently

These words help show the reader that you’re switching the mood from your previous sentence. You can also use sentences or paragraphs to switch between your ideas.

Transitions can be tricky to master, so it’s a good idea to grab one of your favorite books. Examine how the author transitions from one subject to another and keeps the story flowing.

5. Build strong paragraphs 

Paragraphs are links between the sections of information the reader has already read and those that will come after. However, they are also a separator and help readers to make sense of all the information from a book.

Paragraphs can be used to draw the reader’s attention. A short paragraph amongst long paragraphs will make an unmistakable point.

Each paragraph should have a purpose, and the two most important aspects of each paragraph are the opening and closing sentences.

Examine your paragraphs and analyze them for strength. Consider breaking them up if you’re making a strong point, and remove any unnecessary sentences.

Sharpen those editing skills!

As you can see, there’s a lot to think about when you’re editing. If you need help with your editing skills, get in touch with one of our editors today.