Editing - Cutting the Fat

4 years ago

Editing – Cutting the Fat

I just spent an hour with a friend of mine who is writing a brochure for a seminar. I am struck anew by the power in editing.

Here are a few basic principles about editing that will serve you well – whether you are creating promo materials or working on your script.

  1. Can you change prepositional phrases to adjectives? “The plans of the business and the intentions of management” is better expressed as “the business plans and the management intentions”
  2. Can you lose articles?  “The business plans and the management intentions” can probably be rephrased as “business plans and management intentions.”
  3. Can you express both concepts together?  “business plans and management intentions” can perhaps be expressed as “Company goals.”
  4. If you have long sentences in your copy, see if you can break them up. Short sentences are more powerful, and it’s easier for the reader to connect the subject to the predicate.
  5. When possible, make yourself the subject. “I want a job” rather than “A job is what I would like.”
  6. Avoid gerunds. “Looking into windows is a fun way to spend your time.” Try instead, “It’s fun to look in windows.”
  7. Don’t’ be vague or obscure. If you cannot explain what a sentence means, then you have no business putting it down on the page.  
  8. Don’t use long words just for the sake of using them. Why say “implementation” when “doing” will serve the purpose? Even if it’s a term of art, that doesn’t mean it is the best way to say it.
  9. Don’t be redundant. If you already said it, don’t say it again.
  10. Assume that the person who is going to read what you wrote is a busy person. Don’t force them to interpret your work, or to wade through paragraphs when a sentence would do.
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