Tag Archives: grammar

Editing Your Writing

By Terry C. Misfeldt

Part of writing is getting the words out. Another part is editing. Editing is an essential tool for every writer. It involves word choice, story flow, grammar, punctuation, and readability. Let’s look at those elements of editing, or should it be writing?

Word choice. When you write, the words you use are important. Some are useless and unnecessary and editing takes care of them. “That” is one of those words that can often be eliminated. Here’s an example with the previous sentence: “That” is a word you can eliminate. The other aspect of word choice is thinking about which word is most descriptive for the scene you create. The right words can be powerful in your story, creating an image in the reader’s mind describing emotions, building tension, or adding stress.

Story flow. Editing for flow involves reading the copy from a reader’s perspective. Is there a logical progression from one scene to the next? Does a gap exist causing your readers to give up on what’s going on? There are occasions when you are editing requiring you to move sentences, paragraphs, and perhaps even chapters to a better location in the story. Edit for your reader.

Grammar. There are software applications available to catch and correct grammatical errors when editing your work. As the writer, however, ultimate responsibility for grammar changes if yours. By the way, “the” is another often unnecessary word. Think about it.

Punctuation. Readers can be turned off my missing or incorrect punctuation—such as a dash instead of a comma, semi-colon; or misplaced colon: End a question with a question mark? End an exclamation with an exclamation mark! Use parentheses for (parenthetical expressions) in your work. Periods are the end of a sentence. Punctuation is a form of expressing yourself, so edit accordingly.

Readability. Scholars write at university level. Average reading levels for cognition suggest writers craft their writing at a third of fourth grade level. Editing for readability is about knowing your audience and writing for them. It can discourage a reader if they have to stop and look up a word they do not  understand, so keep that in mind when editing. It is okay to add a definition or describe intent to keep the flow going for your reader. Oops! In the second to last sentence, the words “have to” should have been edited out as unnecessary.

Editing is a constant challenge. There are occasions when a professional editor is beneficial.

Writing Perspective – Day 7 of 31

By Valerie Routhieaux

Day Seven – Grammar

Yesterday, I posted about editing, leaning more towards what to leave and what to take out of your manuscript, with a little about passive and active voice. I will continue with editing today, with the emphasis on grammar and punctuation.

If there was ever an area that needed more help than any other, it’s punctuation. You know what I mean. Where and when do you use the comma and the semicolon? From what I’ve noticed, the semicolon is the most unused of all punctuation. It has its moments, but they are few. Use a semicolon between two main clauses not linked by and, but, or, nor, for, so, yet. (Harbrace College Handbook page 152).

Do not use the comma to separate the subject from its verb or the verb from its subject. (Harbrace College Handbook page 147) With those definitions, it should be easy to determine where to put the comma or the semicolon.

One thing I’ve been grateful for is Microsoft Word. It helped me with my punctuation and grammar in the early stages of editing my work. It might seem annoying, but those red underlines were useful, and I learned a lot about comma placement.

Do I get it right every time? No. I need to rely on the editing tools at my disposal, and the book cited above is an excellent resource for everything punctuation and grammar.

Another aspect of editing is grammar. As the publishing world advanced, so too did the area of grammar, particularly with voice or point of view (POV).

In many earlier manuscripts and bestselling books, you see a universal POV. You know what everyone is thinking. One book that comes to mind is Heidi. You know what every character thinks. That can get complicated and messy. It also leaves you wondering who is talking in a particular scene.

One common mistake is getting the POV cluttered with too many voices in one scene, where you should have only one. You know who is in charge of the dialogue because you also hear the person’s thoughts. You should have no more than two main POVs in a book. Three is acceptable, but no more than that.

It’s easy to get both POVs mixed up in a scene. You need to determine which character you’re focusing on in that scene and use only that POV. When you change POV add a line space to alert the reader for the change of POV.

If you’ve noticed the line space but didn’t know why, that’s the reason, a change in POV. We also use the line space for change in time whether it’s a few hours or days.

Good grammar is more than POV. It’s also an active voice versus passive voice. Examples of passive voice are: is, was, are, were, to be, has been. Eliminating those words from your text, causes your text to go from passive to active.

When you change passive to active, you create a document easy to read. I put this post against both Grammarly and Prowritingaid to give you a good example of good grammar, punctuation, and POV in editing.

If you have anything to add, I appreciate your comments on the subject of editing. It’s always good to learn more from your given vocation.

Tomorrow’s perspective: Revisions