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Editing and Proofreading: Part 2 by Les Stephenson

*Up From Down Under*

*Column Editor - Les Stephenson*
 

Up From Down Under

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Editing and Proofreading – Editing

PART TWO

 

Do you like the look of your completed work? Nothing is more satisfying to a writer than freshly printed pages. Hardcopy is something special - it even outshines a computer screen. The printer’s output signifies a finished product.

 

Wrong.  What you’ve produced is an interim step, an opportunity to further polish and refine. Don’t be fooled by “the illusion of perfection that the printed page presents.”

 

Seize the opportunity for a thorough edit. Tackle the task on two levels:

 

  • Macro level. The big picture.
  • Micro level. The itty-bitty parts.

 

The term editing may be used to encompass the whole process or, more specifically, applied to the macro level. Proofreading is the final surface polish performed once the big things have been set in concrete.

 

Editing

 

Look at the big picture. Before you started writing, did you draft a plan of the work you hoped to achieve? What was the topic? What was your theme? Were there criteria you had to meet or include? How long should it be? No story or essay can be completely random – there must be parameters, either externally set or planned by you.

 

This is the stage when you look for answers to the big issues.

 

  1. Content. Did you follow your plan? If not, why not? Plans are not rigid; they need to be flexible. However, if irreparably broken, they need to be rewritten as new plans. If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there?
  2. Relevance. Is everything you’ve written relevant to your topic or theme? Don’t get carried away on side issues. Less relevant information or excessive detail may be assigned to appendices.
  3. Coherence. Does the story or essay flow smoothly from beginning to end? Is there an introduction, body and conclusion? If it’s a story, consider setting, plot, conflict, and resolution.
  4. Paragraphing. Paragraphs are the key links in your chain that make or break your work. Individual paragraphs should address one idea and consist of related sentences. The story or essay needs to flow from one paragraph to the next. Separate units of dialogue should be new paragraphs. One speaker to a paragraph - no matter how short the paragraph.
  5. Style. Is the ‘tone’ of your work appropriate for the topic or genre? Sensual or erotic scenes would be very unsuitable for a children’s story. Swearing and profanity could offend some readers. Is your writing active or passive? Do you ‘tell’ rather than “show’?
  6. Language. Have you used gendered language – lots of masculine nouns that exclude the feminine or vice versa? Do you tend to overuse adverbs and other words or phrases that may be superfluous?
  7. References. Have you acknowledged direct quotations, paraphrases or other citations in an accepted format? Non-fiction works usually include tables of references or bibliographies.

 

 

Watch for:

Part Three

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