The Blogger’s Fail-Proof Guide to Editing Posts

by Marian Schembari on October 26, 2011


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.

Clearly.

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:

Self-editing: 10 ways to tighten your writing

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.

Improve Your Writing with these Editing Tips

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.

Proofreading Tips

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.

How to Use Language Like a Pro

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.

How to Lose 30 Pounds of Word Flab Overnight

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.

Two Techniques That Help You Embrace Brevity

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).

25 Things You Should Know About Revisions

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!

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  • http://alexisgrant.com Alexis Grant

    I love that you bother to do this, because so many bloggers don’t! It shows!

    • http://marianlibrarian.com Marian Schembari

      Well, sometimes I bother, sometimes I don’t and you can always tell. That said, not everyone is perfect and blogging isn’t like writing a novel, mistakes are okay. Still, if a post is hard to read, guess what? It doesn’t get read.

  • http://www.leslieforman.com Leslie Forman

    Useful! Thanks!

    (The previous draft of this comment included a zillion more words. But I’ve followed your advice and pared it town to the most concise form of this message. ;) cheers. )

    • http://marianlibrarian.com Marian Schembari

      Haha, nicely done. Glad you reigned yourself in ;-)

  • http://twitter.com/marianschembari/status/129181317861605376 Marian Schembari

    The Blogger’s Fail-Proof Guide to Editing Posts http://t.co/Ju92d6Ma

  • http://twitter.com/nandita/status/129181631201296384 Alejandra Ramos

    Fabulous tips!! RT @MarianSchembari: The Blogger’s Fail-Proof Guide to Editing Posts http://t.co/Fg0pKu3a

  • http://twitter.com/alexisgrant/status/129206920111337472 Alexis Grant

    RT @marianschembari: The Blogger’s Fail-Proof Guide to Editing Posts http://t.co/3jTndZL3

  • http://twitter.com/leslieforman/status/129207855730532353 Leslie Forman

    RT @marianschembari: The Blogger’s Fail-Proof Guide to Editing Posts http://t.co/3jTndZL3

  • http://twitter.com/elkinsvalerie/status/129209519757737984 Valerie Elkins

    Really need to learn this! RT @alexisgrant: RT @marianschembari: The Blogger’s Fail-Proof Guide to Editing Posts http://t.co/6JbcbW8G

  • http://twitter.com/Havinmysay Kelli M Castillo

    Thank you, Marian!

    I feel only slightly guilty that my writing is benefiting from your hard work. :-)

    • http://marianlibrarian.com Marian Schembari

      Haha, feel ZERO guilt. I like it ;-)

  • http://idealog.co.nz Esther

    Self editing is TOUGH. It’s much much easier editing somebody else’s. That said, I think I’m getting more ruthless and better at being objective when it comes to polishing my own work…slowly.

    • http://marianlibrarian.com Marian Schembari

      It IS tough. This is why I’ve started writing posts at least a week before I publish. That way, I give myself a few days of breathing room before I hop back in and start editing.

  • http://twitter.com/hallsd/status/129271105365098496 HallSd

    The Blogger’s Fail-Proof Guide to Editing Posts, http://t.co/jpowUrB8 Fabulous advice, especially Chuck Wendig.

  • http://twitter.com/jennmwp/status/130023656901451776 Jennifer Ward-Pelar

    RT @MarianSchembari: The Blogger's Fail-Proof Guide to Editing Posts http://t.co/nNTCxwpR

  • http://twitter.com/barefootadvocat/status/130063094004195328 Katharine Norwood

    The Blogger’s Fail-Proof Guide to Editing Posts http://t.co/6DGZEWrG

  • http://twitter.com/eccentricorbits/status/130093923027779584 J. S. R. (EO_Jande)

    RT RebeccaAWatson: Just in time 4 my NaNoEdiMo ;) RT @MarianSchembari:The Blogger's Fail-Proof Guide to Editing Posts http://t.co/1K5N7Yj4

  • http://www.sweeneysays.com Sweeney

    This list is bookmark-bar good.  That’s a weird compliment, but I only keep a handful of links on that bar, so this is serious business.  THANK YOU!

    • http://marianlibrarian.com Marian Schembari

      Lady, I TOTALLY know what you mean by “bookmark-bar good.” So I’m hugely honored :)

  • http://twitter.com/sweeneysays/status/130432042449121280 Sweeney

    The Blogger’s Fail-Proof Guide to Editing Posts: http://t.co/pH1dUjBq

  • http://twitter.com/dannybrown/status/131039820221906944 Danny Brown

    The Blogger’s Fail-Proof Guide to Editing Posts — Marian Schembari http://t.co/KtvtEZ7R

  • http://twitter.com/elijahmay/status/131041030958104576 Elijah May™

    The Blogger’s Fail-Proof Guide to Editing Posts — Marian Schembari http://t.co/KtvtEZ7R

  • http://twitter.com/kathycondon/status/131408056671158273 Kathy Condon

    RT @MarianSchembari: The Blogger's Fail-Proof Guide to Editing Posts http://t.co/WX1kr80d

  • http://twitter.com/mydigitalvidya/status/131577270996443136 Digital Vidya

    The Blogger’s Fail-Proof Guide to Editing Posts — Marian Schembari http://t.co/Fs6B5lVZ RT @DannyBrown #DVcamp

  • http://twitter.com/shwetakhalkho/status/131579901659713536 shweta khalkho

    The Blogger’s Fail-Proof Guide to Editing Posts — Marian Schembari http://t.co/Fs6B5lVZ RT @DannyBrown #DVcamp

  • http://twitter.com/saraharrow/status/132200444100476928 Sarah Arrow

    Blog editing :) http://t.co/yaatx6WQ

  • http://twitter.com/all1ann/status/134680780004790274 Ann All

    Belated RT @HallSd Blogger’s Fail-Proof Guide to Editing Posts, http://t.co/7Bockbe1 Fabulous advice, especially Chuck Wendig.

  • http://twitter.com/bouncingthots/status/134684681764474881 Jaisundar_

    http://t.co/HsNYF8Oo to all my #bpm blogging friends…Not that u need to see this, but to let u know I've read it..I have hope, it seems ;)

  • http://twitter.com/sanoojk/status/134699293369040897 Sanooj Kutty

    http://t.co/HsNYF8Oo to all my #bpm blogging friends…Not that u need to see this, but to let u know I've read it..I have hope, it seems ;)

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