Writing Compass

Eight Suggestions for Self-Editing

                           Read aloud when you revise.

When revising, you may hear problems (of tone, emphasis, word choice, syntax) that you can't see.

I'm not a very good writer, but I'm an excellent rewriter.  ~ James Michener



                           Use specific nouns and verbs.

To convey your message clearly and keep your readers engaged, use concrete, specific words that show what you mean.

The difference between the almost right word and the right word is ... the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.  ~ Mark Twain


                                      Use active voice.

Don't overwork the passive voice or forms of the verb "to be."  Instead, use dynamic verbs in the active voice.

How do I know what I think until I see what I say?  ~ E.M. Forster


                        Vary the length of your sentences.

In general, use short sentences to emphasize ideas.  Use longer sentences to explain, define, or illustrate ideas.

I think I did pretty well, considering I started out with nothing but a bunch of blank paper.  ~ Steve Martin

Source idea: grammar.about.com.  Google search "Purdue Owl" for formatting tips.


Actively edit and proofread.

It's easy to overlook errors when merely looking over your writing.  Be aware of common trouble spots when reviewing your final draft, i.e. subject-verb agreement, run-on sentences, etc.

The wastebasket is a writer's best friend.  ~ Isaac Bashevis Singer


Cut the clutter.

When revising your writing, eliminate unnecessary words.  Long, awkward sentences can be improved by breaking them down into shorter units.

There's a great power in words, if you don't hitch too many of them together.  ~ Josh Billings


Lead with your main idea.

As a general rule, state the main idea of a paragraph in the first sentence - the topic sentence.  Don't keep your readers guessing.

Writing comes more easily if you have something to say.  ~ Sholem Asch


Put key words and ideas at the beginning or end of the sentence.

Don't bury a main point in the middle of a long sentence.  To emphasize key words, place them at the beginning or (better yet) at the end of the sentence.

Communication works for those who work at it.  ~ John Powell

             Source of quotes: goodreads.com/quotes & fontayne.com/ink