Instead of relying on an editor to neaten up your writing, you can learn to be your own editor. If you have no experience editing, the best place to learn is with your own writing. Once you have an initial draft, use these simple tips and tricks to turn your writing into a great piece of content.
1. Eliminate filler words
Be as concise as possible. As there is always more than one way to express an idea, check to see if you’ve use the most direct route. “In order,” “here” and “quite” are all common examples of unnecessary words that lengthen sentences. Also check for long constructions with many prepositions and determine if there’s a way to shorten phrases.
2. Split sentences
If after you’ve removed all the fillers your sentences are still too long, break them in half. Long sentences usually contain more than one idea. This can be identified by a heavy use of commas. Cutting sentences in half will help avoid rambling, and will also help readers keep their focus.
3. Remove adjectives and adverbs
Improve your writing without losing sentiment by cutting out unnecessary adjectives and adverbs. In particular, look out for weak adjectives, such as “very” and “really,” and replace them with a stronger adjective. For instance, “elated” sounds better than “very happy.”
4. Switch to the active voice
The passive voice sounds weak, distances your audience and leads to ineffective content. On rare occasions, it may be necessary to use the passive voice to avoid roundabout sentences, but most of the time, the active voice is more powerful.
5. Be positive
Change negative constructions to positive ones. In some cases, the change is obvious — such as “not relevant” to “irrelevant.” For words where there is no obvious positive, this will require a little more thinking.
Content writing is no place to show off your knowledge of long words. Stick to words everyone can understand without reaching for the dictionary.
7. Cut “that”
Remove “that” from as many phrases as possible. Often you’ll find meaning stays the same, but flow improves and sentences shorten. Also note: to describe a person you need “who,” never “that.”
With practice, editing will become easier and your writing will improve. Next time you complete your first draft, spend some time editing.