Better Writing: 4 Tips for Revising Your Work

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May 19, 2019

Guest post by Wally Bock. First published on April 23, 2019, Wally Bock’s Writing Edge website.

If you want to create great writing, you must revise. That’s never easy, but here are four tips that will help you revise better and quicker.

Get the Big Stuff Right First

Revising will be easier if you take care of the big things first. If you’re writing a book, big things are chapters or sections. If you’re working on an article or a blog post, it might be your sub-heads.

Make sure you’ve got everything you need and no more. Then, make sure your big pieces are in the right order.

How do you know if the order is right? Pay attention to the transitions. If you can create smooth transitions from one big part to another, you’ve got things in the right order.

If You Must Cut

Sometimes you must cut the amount of writing. You might have to get a blog post down to 700 words or less to meet editorial requirements. Your book publisher may tell you that your book’s just too long, and you must cut it by 20 percent.

Don’t do this with a word here and a sentence there. If you must cut, cut big pieces. Pay attention to those transitions, too. That way, you’ll know if something can disappear without a trace, or if you’re cutting bone and muscle instead of fat.

Get Some Distance

It’s easier to revise material when you come to it as fresh as possible. The best way to do that with content you’ve just written is to give yourself some space before you revise. I like to give blog posts at least a day before I revise. For book chapters, a month is the minimum.

Read Your Work Aloud

When you’ve got the big pieces right, it’s time to work on word choice, sentence structure, and flow. When you read your work out loud, your mouth finds things that your eyes missed. The best business authors write for the ear.

Bottom Line

If you’re serious about your writing, you should be serious about revising. Get the big pieces in order first. If you must cut, cut big chunks. Get space so you can see your work with something like beginner’s eyes. Read your work aloud.

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