Both of my parents are writers. They write for major newspapers, edit articles, have blogs and publish books. My 20 year old brother has written for The New York Times and Complex. My other brother, 21, has taken photos for the Times and his college essay was better than most bestsellers. It’s madness. I come from a family of geniuses.
But while you’d think it would be a lot to live up to, we all have our own styles. In college, I would send my Big Important essays to both parents for editing and get back two completely different versions. I’ve always SUCKED at editing, but lately… I don’t know what’s happening… I suppose I’m turning into my parents.
I’m loving it though. Not editing my own work, mind you, but I get off on deleting sentences. Reorganizing paragraphs. Adding a slightly different – but radically better – word to really hit the exact meaning.
So I’ve been reading A LOT on editing and writing tricks to make the writing on this blog something I can be proud of. While I can’t pretend to know the first thing about professional editing (let’s count how many errors are on this post alone), I am slowly starting to teach myself. And I’ve come across some amazing blogs and articles that have been really useful in terms of what words are almost always unnecessary, how to break grammatical rules with style and various ways to tweak a blog post so it shines:
I use this post of Alexis Grant’s for every. single. thing I write. I go through her list and remove all the unncessary words and, when I’m done, my writing is that much stronger.
While this Lifehack article isn’t the most creative things on the planet, I do need to be reminded to read over my posts backwards, out loud, watch for fancy words, justify each phrase… Basically, this piece is every single editing basic for whenever you need a good reminder.
It’s absurd how often I turn to Grammar Girl. I even listen to her podcasts on the way to work (much to the embarrassment of my father who thinks I’m weird). While this isn’t her best post as it include the basics mentioned above, I like her emphasis on the fact that nobody’s perfect. That said, if you have ANY grammar questions, search the Grammar Girl site as she’s answered every issue you could possibly come across.
As usual, Men with Pens knocks it out of the park. Ali Luke, writer extraordinaire, writes here about analysing the writing of your peers and blogger idols. I keep meaning to do this exercise with some of my favorites, but I learned some serious things about writing style and how to tweak my own from reading this post over and over.
My favorite thing about editing? Cutting, cutting, cutting. I have a sick obsession with deleting words and turning a 900 word post into a 500 word one. This Copyblogger post by Sonia Simone is EPIC in that she really helps you tone down your words so your copy is as clean, easy to read and concise.
Another Copyblogger post that’s worth bookmarking. I love the author’s use of concrete examples to demonstrate how much better your writing looks and sounds when shortened (and restructured).
Chuck Wendig should know that I would marry him in a heartbeat. This post, as is common with Sir Wendig, is full naughty words, a no-bullshit-attitude and some seriously good advice. My favorite? “Multitasking is for assholes.”
I don’t even think I’ve broken the ice on all the great resources out there, so please share your favorites in the comments!