Grammar, punctuation, and sentence construction are issues that many authors struggle with, and although these issues are significant, the editing process should not typically begin with them. Why? Because expressing your thoughts as clearly as possible is the fundamental goal of editing. Therefore, it is better to start by concentrating on the overall order and clarity of your writing.
Nevertheless, it is important you ask yourself some of these questions as you embark on your self-editing process: Can my reader follow the logical progression of my ideas? Am I using the best points to express my ideas?
This is because the overall effectiveness of your writing is more dependent on the strength of your argument. So, here are five major things to look out for when you self-edit your work:
- Punctuation and Grammar
Reading through your original draft a few times to check for spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors is the first step in self-editing.
Without proper grammar, your sentences will lack structure. Grammar entails how you arrange words to create meaning in your sentences and paragraphs. Homophones (it’s/its, they’re/there, here/hear), verb forms, or the subject-object-verb arrangement are a few examples of the many grammar rules.
In addition, paying attention to punctuation is very important when self-editing your work. Knowing where to insert basic punctuation marks like full-stop or period, commas, and question marks is crucial as they make your sentences more comprehensive.
- Remove Filter Words
Filler words are extraneous or superfluous words used to lengthen sentences without providing new information. Realised, so as to, actually, basically, just, well, you know, and in order to, are some examples of filler words you use.
When self-editing your work, you should pay attention to terms and phrases that don’t improve your writing because they frequently take the reader’s focus away from the point you’re trying to make.
For instance, instead of ‘I was actually thinking if you can help me with my morning chores.’ say, ‘Can you help me with my morning chores?’ The second question implies that the situation calls for an urgent reaction.
- Replace Complex Words
Making sure your language is easily comprehensible to your reader is the next step when self-editing. Always remember that your writing is not to wow your audience but to deliver a message. Therefore, when there are simpler word options available, there’s no need to complicate your writing by stuffing each sentence with flowery language, which can addle your reader.
- Recurring Words
Another thing to watch out for is repeating terms inside a single sentence or paragraph. It is more intriguing and engaging when you vary the word choices in your sentences.
For example, if you are writing on the importance of education, instead of:
Education is important because it is important in boosting your confidence and also important in giving you access to greater opportunities.
Education is important because it boosts your confidence in public and gives you access to greater opportunities.
Ensure you substitute weaker terms for repeated ones to create a stronger argument.
- Avoid Passive Voice
Lastly, be mindful of the passive voice. When a statement uses the passive voice, the action is received by the subject rather than being done by them. On the contrary, active voice concentrates on the person performing an activity, making sentences written in them more straightforward, precise, and engaging.
The passive voice adds ambiguity and vagueness to your work. For example:
The strike was called off because our demands were met by the government. (Passive voice)
We called off the strike because the government met our demands. (Active voice)