Here’s one from the archives. Understanding how editing your content will improve your writing is essential, so it doesn’t hurt reiterating a few points.
If there’s one thing I’ve learnt since becoming a copywriter, it’s that writing the initial draft of a project is the easy bit.
OK, that makes it sound a doddle; it’s not, but in comparison to what comes next, it is.
After spending hours researching, thinking, drafting and redrafting to generate a first draft that I’m happy with, I then have to edit it to create something I’m happy for my client to see.
The editing is the toe-curlingly tricky bit.
It is the process that turns good writing into great writing.
Editing content effectively
How you edit will be personal to you, but here are a few approaches I use that work for me.
Go from long to short
If word count restricts your project, ignore it for the first draft. Let your writing flow freely; the good, bad and ugly are all welcome in the initial draft. Then, once you’ve used up all your ideas, go back through it and take out the bad and rearrange the good.
It’s much easier to cut down to your word limit rather than pad out what you have to reach it.
Don’t be sentimental when editing content
As a writer, it’s very easy to fall in love with certain phrases and sentences, but there’s no room for sentiment in copywriting.
It’s vital to remain focused on the topic, the reader and the aims of the project as you edit. If any part of what you have written doesn’t satisfy the criteria, cut it, no matter how much you like it.
Most writers like to set the scene before they get to the main point. In marketing, there’s no room for this fluff.
Review your writing and see if there’s a better lead further down that instantly hits the reader. If there is, that’s where your writing should start.
Small and short is good
It’s vital your writing is easy to read and understand. That’s why you need to ditch complex words, lengthy sentences and long paragraphs for something simpler and shorter.
Don’t overdo the punctuation
This one ties in with the one before. Excessive punctuation leads to awkward sentences that are difficult to read.
Keep your sentences short and use commas sparingly because they tend to slow down the flow of your writing. Another important thing to remember is to avoid using full stops in headings. The last thing you want your reader to do is to stop reading after your compelling headline; you want them to continue straight into the body of your content.
Who are you writing for?
Every writer understands that they have to write for their reader in mind, so it’s important they use appropriate language. However, it’s just as important to remember whom you are writing as. Think about how they talk and the tone they would use and replicate that.
Be active, not passive
Active verbs give your writing an impact. Passive writing is somewhat uninspiring, and you want your reader to be excited about what you’re telling them, so get active.
Be ruthless when editing content
Editing is painful, but it will also lead to tighter, leaner and more powerful writing. The best option is to put your initial draft aside for a day or so before editing, so you come at it with fresh eyes.
Sally Ormond, freelance copywriter