Editing is like the tide against the shore…
… let me explain.
A beach does not remain static.
It may look the same day after day but it is constantly changing.
What creates the shift (of sand, pebbles and life forms) is the tide.
The sea comes in. The sea goes out.
When you stop to listen you can hear it shape the land beneath it.
The tide is one of earth’s editors. It edits our planet. It is editing the landscape every second of the day.
Which I think is pretty amazing.
But because it just goes about it’s business we tend (like so many things) to take it for granted.
A bit like when people visit a great website or see a great ad.
They know they like what they see.
But they don’t really think about the blood, sweat and tears that went into the words on the page or screen.
It’s unlikely the words were written in one go.
It’s unlikely the words were put together by chance.
It’s unlikely the words were given zero thought.
More likely there would have been a first draft. Then a second draft. A third. And so on…
In other words, editing took place.
The offer, appeal, tone, pace and personality were created and crafted by careful attention to language.
And (like most things which are at the top of their league or game) it all looks easy.
If you think writing copy is easy, have a go yourself.
And, of course.
If you are responsible for copy, write the copy or order the copy – make sure you or the writer does the editing part of the process. Don’t skip it.
Here are SEVEN tips to help you with editing:
- Look for any “that” words – you can usually delete them.
- Check for rhythm – Make sure the sentence lengths are varied so they don’t sound monotonous (transition words can help here – see Wednesday Word #14).
- Consider combining sentences – It can save words. Try using a dash instead of a full stop in the middle.
- Cut out unnecessary words you don’t need – (I didn’t need “you don’t need” there – you could cut a few words and it would still make sense. Stronger sense.
- Read for flow – Does the structure of the copy make sense? Does it flow logically from headline to call to action close? Would it read better if you rearranged the order or moved a section up or down the page?
- Take your time – Don’t skimp on editing and checking. I like to leave first draft copy ‘to rest’ for 24-48 hours before looking at it again. When I’m ready to edit I have fresh eyes and may even have come up with some better phrases, words or phrasing of sentences.
- Avoid editing when tired – Although you might think this is just ‘reading’, editing is a high-focus, strong energy task. Do it at a time of day when you’re in that zone.
Get your pen, pencil, marker pen or keys ready for editing.
Review. Revise. Critique. Tweak. Fine-tune.
It’s worth doing.