Editing and
Proofreading
It isn’t just the conclusion that can
be overwritten and it is not
uncommon for a writer to spill
everything they have out onto the
page, in the belief that is it
ALL necessary.
It is good practice to keep ‘clean copy’
when writing and how you achieve
this is by consciously writing to certain
rules, with regards punctuation and
grammar. You also need to ensure
that your writing is tight and you are
not going off on tangents.
As we mentioned before, everyone
has a different process when it comes
to writing. Some of you will have stuck
to your preplan, others will have written
freely with an idea of that plan in the
back of their minds.
Some of you might even have had
the intention of using your story map,
but in the end just wrote what came
into your head.
That’s all fine – but one common
issue when it gets to the end of your
story, if you haven’t been keeping a
track of it, is that you have ended up
with a far bigger word count
than is necessary.
Your short story should be no more
than 1,000 words and no less
than 100 words.
(JUNIOR CLASSES, this does
not count if you are submitting a
poem or a thought – there is no
minimum word count for you.)
Don’t be surprised, however, if you
have reached the end and you are
300 words above the cut-off point!
This is where editing comes in.
Editing is the art of cutting
unnecessary copy and every writer
must learn how to do this.
As an author, when you submit
your work to your publisher, you need
to have ensured that it is of the highest
standard. That you have read and
reread, deleted unnecessary sentences
and double-checked that it flows.
This is your responsibility but a
lot of writers do not find it easy.
This is because they cannot see how
else to tell the story, once they have
written it a certain way and to a
certain length.
It is, however, possible and is both
healthy and vital for all writers to learn
how to edit their work back.
Why?
– To avoid boring the reader with
pointless information.
– To keep pace.
– To ensure a satisfactory read.
So how do we edit?
– Pinpoint an area in need of editing.
– Consider the language used.
– Ask yourself – how can I get this
across better?
Tips
– Identify any awkward phrases
and rewrite. Are you making a point
but could do it in a much tighter way?
Are you repeating certain words?
Remember your synonyms.
– Rectify any long-winded
description. Get to the point and
if you see that you haven’t,
bullet point what you were
trying to say on a separate sheet,
delete the paragraph in
the story and rewrite based on
your bullet points.
– Double-check for inconsistencies.
Did you describe your lead character
as having red hair at the beginning
but then tell your reader that she
“tucked her long, black hair under her
baseball cap,” later on?
PROOFREADING
The final step in the process is to
proofread – when you read back
over your story with correcting
spelling and grammar in mind.
Why?
Because no one wants to, should
have to or even will read copy that
is badly written!
Tips
— Spellcheck – this seems obvious
but so many writers fail to do it, and
in doing so fail themselves on
submission.
Spellcheck can help to identify
wrong spelling and grammar and
is a great way to start your proofread
– but do not rely on it solely.
(Note: Always ensure the spellcheck
is set to UK English for Ireland
and the UK.)
— Print your story out – this is
a great way of really seeing
your story. Read it with fresh eyes
(i.e. after you have been away
from it for a while) and use a red pen
to mark out any changes or
corrections needed.
— Read backwards – this might
seem like a funny piece of advice
but it’s a trick that…well, does the trick!
It focuses your mind and is a great
way of identifying wrong spellings.
— Use a checklist – you will not go
wrong with this one. On it, have
characters’ names and place names
for example, as well as things like font
and numbers to double-check in copy.
Once you have all of the
aforementioned done,
you are ready to submit your copy
(see our final lesson, next).
Well done – you are
almost there!
EXERCISES
To develop your editing skills go to
Week 3/Exercise Sheet 1 and to work
on your proofreading download
Week 3/Exercise Sheet 2.
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