Cindy’s Rules for Writers #8

Rule #8

Rest before editing a long or complex written work. When you finish writing, set it aside. After a day or two, read it again. This is a good time to check for spelling and punctuation errors. Once that task is done, set it aside and work on other projects for about a week or two, at least. This time, read it for sentence structure, word usage, consistency and other grammatical problems. Work on correcting those then leave your work. After another week or two, read it for style and flow, and improve on those. Once you are done, you might select a few trusted and capable friends to read your work for you. “Capable” is very important here because you want someone with a keen eye for details, a good grasp of language, and familiarity with good literature. Listen to comments and suggestions objectively. Don’t argue any points with them, rather, ask for clarification if you wish. If you argue with them, you might put them off and they will not be willing to read for you any more. Instead, check your work and see if you agree with their comments and suggestions. If you do, make the changes. If you don’t, you can either ignore those suggestions or get a second opinion. Or,you can simply use the suggestions to guide you in making changes the way you want.

Not all writers will need to go through this process over several weeks or even months, but if you are new to writing complex works, it might be best to follow this editing and revising process. As you become more skilled as a writer, your style will develop and your work will flow smoothly. Nevertheless, you will still want to consult a reader, proofreader, or editor if you know you have certain weaknesses, such as seeing your own mistakes.

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