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"An architect's most useful tools are an eraser at the drafting board and a wrecking bar at the site."
~ Frank Lloyd Wright, American Architect
If you read the introduction to this series on becoming a more effective self-editor, you know that writing and editing are two distinct processes. While many people edit as they write, you will be a better and faster writer if you separate these two processes. Similarly, editing has two phases. You must focus first on the developmental edit, which improves the structure and organization of a piece. Once the structure is sound, you can focus on the substantive edit.
Three Steps to completing a substantive edit.
The substantive edit is a line-by-line edit intended to make your writing clear and compelling. If your writing is confusing, complicated, or wordy, your reader will abandon it. To complete your substantive edit, follow these three steps:
The more time you can allow to elapse between the writing phase, developmental edit, and substantive edit, the easier it will be for you to identify and correct your mistakes. Every writer relies on crutch words or phrases. These are particularly difficult to recognize when you're evaluating your own writing.
Self-editing is hard, but it is also a skill you can improve. Download and use The Substantive Edit Checklist the next time you need to edit your writing. The better you become at editing your work, the more compelling and authoritative your writing will be.
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