Let me preface this WHOLE post by saying: Editing is hard. It is very tedious and detail oriented. Most of us, myself included, are better off hiring an editor or a few to read our writing.
But, if you’re frugal like me, you want to try to do everything on your own to save on costs.
This is the post for you.
Let’s get started.
Editing takes time to learn. I can really only speak to how I learned how to edit, because I am not a professionally trained editor. I’ve learned English throughout my life, I feel like much more so in the past few years than the past 20! Anyways, editing comes down to knowing the basics of your writing language. I’m gonna assume you are editing English for the sake of this post.
In English, you have to know about the basic rules of how English works. Spelling. Grammar. Punctuation. Word definitions.
In some respects, depending on what you consider editing, you need to go beyond individual words and phrases and sentences. You need to be able to analyze pacing, flow, emotion…really the pattern of the words over the course of a whole page. (I would probably consider these things advanced editing.)
Thanks to websites like Google, it is SUPER easy to learn definitions and grammar. Just Google it! I’ve googled synonyms, definitions, comma rules and other things many times! Super helpful. If you are very serious about editing, you should look up Styles, such as The Element of Style, Chicago Style, APA Style, etc. These are highly technical, in depth looks at how to write English properly. If you are like, an engineer, you may enjoy learning about Styles. I couldn’t really read through them or retain them though.
I mean, really, editing comes down to taking whatever you write, and making it make sense. How do you really know if it makes sense? Take your words and literally read them out loud to yourself or a friend. You should be able to pick up any moments or sections where a word doesn’t make sense or the pacing is off. This is assuming you have listened to and read so much English that you know what sounds like good or natural English, and what sounds funky or unrefined. In other words, by saying your writing out loud, your gut will know if it all sounds right or if you made grammar or other mistakes in your writing.
This whole process takes time. There are numerous rules to learn, and you will make mistakes along the way. But over the course of days, weeks and months, you will pick up more and more grammar rules. You will figure out when a sentence has good flow or not. You will understand what good description is or isn’t. Writing in a way is just like talking to your friend. It should flow and “speak” the same way you talk to your friend with all your words in your head. Only now, these words are on paper, all stitched together in a hopefully smooth and coherent format.
Oh and I guess if you don’t want to do all this, you can go lazy and use or buy a program like Grammarly or Prowritingaid. I like learning the rules, not sure why lol.