If writing isn’t your greatest strength yet you still have the desire and the willingness to write, there’s no reason why eventually you can’t produce writing that reaches very high standards. The secret to success in this situation is to edit, edit and edit again.
All writers, no matter how great they think they are, or indeed they actually are, will edit their work many times before it is published. The editing process itself allows writers to identify gaps in the plot, inconsistencies in characterisation and of course spelling and grammar errors. However, if you are a poor writer from the outset, you may not easily be able to recognise where improvements can be made. Thankfully there are some helpful hints that may make the editing process a lot easier and thus will lead to your finished work reading well and being error free.
Firstly, when editing your work, be prepared to edit more than once. On the first read through, try not to concentrate on the intricacies of grammar and spelling, just make sure that your story, report or academic work, generally makes sense. Things to look out for are changes in character names, confusion in relation to plots or subplots, bits of the story or theory left unexplained or any loose ends that need tying up. Try to read your work as if you are reading it for the first time and thus unable to make any assumptions about the content.
Once you are sure that you’ve got all of the content within your work, the next step is to edit the sentences so that they deliver that content in the best possible way. Most writers will adopt a certain style of writing, some will use short punchy sentences, others will use long protracted sentences and others will use a combination of the two depending on the pace of the work. All of these are entirely acceptable but often, when you read your work out loud, you will hear if a sentence is too long or too short, or indeed could just be written in a better way. Part of writing in a better way is found in the commonly used phrase ‘show don’t tell’. In creative writing this means that you should try to describe a situation or person creatively, rather than simply stating the facts. This is a difficult skill to master but as a poor writer it is essential that your editing process involves a conscious effort to rewrite any areas where showing the reader would be preferable to telling the reader.
Thirdly, the last stage of the editing process is to check for grammar and spelling mistakes. Spell checking software is not the enemy, as many may state, but instead should be viewed as a great place to start the editing of these particular elements, especially for a poor writer.
If you’re still not happy that your final edit is the best your work can possibly be, then it’s not a failing to ask someone else to either proofread or edit your work for you. Even the greatest writers on the planet use an editor!
If you need help editing your manuscript, contact JMD Editorial and Writing Services today.