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Sunday, March 13, 2005

Revising made easy: Three steps.

Revising made easy: Three steps.
by Nicole Murphy

When you’re writing, it’s easy to get caught up in the thrill of producing the work. It’s also easy to believe that what you’ve produced is wonderful and send it out straight away. But few of us produce perfect copy first time, every time. We need to revise and edit out work.

Yes, I can see you cringing. You’ve just spent hours doing the work, you don’t want to spend hours revising it. But it doesn’t have to take hours. Go over these three things and you will ensure you send out quality work.

1). Answer the question posed by the work. Fiction or non-fiction, every piece you write is asking a question. It could be who done it, in the case of a murder mystery or how can you edit work quickly, as in this article. But if you don’t answer the question, your reader is going to hate you and no publisher will touch you. So skim read the piece, identifying the question asked at the beginning and make sure you answer it by the end.

2). Is every part of the piece necessary? During your research on cooking for a diabetic, you come across interesting information on the latest medication for diabetes. You’ve put it into the article, but now you have to ask, is it necessary? Of course, the answer is no. The same must be asked of the totally brilliant fiction paragraph you wrote, describing your heroine’s rose garden. Fabulous prose, undoubtedly but necessary? Read each section and ask yourself, can I take this out without ruining the meaning of the piece? Answer the question honestly.

3). Check your spelling, punctuation and grammar. Ergh, I hear you say. But there isn’t an editor in the world who will love your piece with bad spelling and you want the editor to love your piece. Run your computer spell check over the piece, then print it out and sit down to read it. The spell check won’t pick up things like homonyms. Read the piece aloud, and listen to where you need to take breaths. That’s a good pointer to where punctuation should be. And if the grammar is wrong, you’ll hear it because the sentence will seem clumsy or not make sense.

Do these three things and you’ll jump to the head of the pack.

-- Nicole R Murphy is a writer and copyeditor, who runs a copyediting and critiquing business at She hopes this article will help you put her out of business!

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