Self Editing I

Do the easy stuff first, is my byword. I check for grammar, typos, words that spell-check didn’t catch. If a word is in the computer memory it won’t be highlighted, but it could be one that doesn’t fit. Do you know how to right well? Is it write or wrong? You know what I mean. I look at sentence beginnings. Do several in a row start the same way? How about sentence length? I think of the writing I like to read and use it for a pattern. I don’t count each word in the sentences except for some young children’s stories, but vary the length and substance. All big words? All small? I mix them up so they appeal to the eye before they’re even read.

I read my story or chapter aloud. Does it flow? Does it make sense? Over the years I have used this editing technique and found untold numbers of spots needing correction. I used to subject my husband to being my audience, and if he laughed or got tears in his eyes I felt I had it made. If he looked bored or had a puzzled look on his face I ended up with complete rewrites or dumped the project in the wastebasket.

Getting into the details takes more work. Dialog, checking words to see if better choices can be made, cutting the fluff—all time-consuming, but very important. More on these things next time.

-Contributed by Shirley Shibley

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5 responses to “Self Editing I

  1. Great tips, Shirley! We’re going through this process right now as we finalize the first of Nancy’s new WriteShop Primary books. Debbie, in particular, has been reading the text–all 192 pages!–aloud. Amazing what pops out when you read word-for-word instead of globally gathering in groups of words.

    We have found self-editing to be such a valuable part of the writing process when teaching children to write. It gives them a chance to tidy up a rough draft before turning it into the homeschool parent or teacher for further scrutiny, and it prepares them for a lifelong habit of proofing their own writing.

  2. Shirley Shibley

    Dear Kim,

    Thanks for your comment. It’s so nice to hear from someone on the other side of the desk that I’m on the right track. We have a very talented group and the tips they give are really expert yet easily followed by any writers, beginning and advanced.

    Have fun working with Nancy.

    Shirley

  3. Gloria McQueen Stockstill

    Shirley, good advice. If we all heed it, we’ll be much better writers!

    Gloria

  4. Shirley, the care you bring to your writing is so evident. I enjoy it very much.
    Thanks for the advice.
    Veronica

  5. I love your idea about “doing the easy stuff first.” It’s a great way to keep from getting discouraged — and you can see progress in a short time!

    Marilyn

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