Some Principles of Editing

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I’m making my way through a book that’s been on my shelf for awhile.
The Adweek Copywriting Handbookby Joseph Sugarman is a few hundred pages of really useful and important information from one of the masters of copywriting. This book always comes up when you’re talking about copywriting and even though I’m only halfway done I can really see why.

My favourite section so far has been the one on the editing process. Whether you are editing your own work or someone else’s, you know it’s not easy. I make it a point to take any advice I can get on the subject. Here are the five principles of editing presented in this book:

1. Look for any “that” words. The words leading up to and including “that” can usually be cut.

2. Edit for rhythm. Sentence lengths shouldn’t all be the same. Read it out loud and change things up when you can.

3. Consider combining sentences. Even if you are only getting rid of one word it can be worth it.

4. Eliminate unnecessary words. This is a good one. The more you do it, the better you get at it.

5. Rearrange thoughts so they flow better. Can be tough to hear, but basically you’re looking for things to sound better and be more logical than you might have written in your first draft.

Editing is so important and the ability to self-edit will help you in whatever type of writing you do.

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