Everyone needs an outstanding editor. Even those writers who have years of experience and the skills to match need fresh eyes on their copy. Great editors find and question holes, ensure stories flow logically, make dull copy shine, trim flab, erase errors, and work with writers to help them improve.
For many writers, the devil is in the details. They may not recognize that using five words instead of 50 in a paragraph can pack a powerful punch or that alliteration like the ps in this paragraph put pizzazz in ordinary prose. Editors do – and they often make magic.
Let’s explore 10 ways editors transform content. They:
- Create a smooth reading experience. Content should flow logically. It should have a strong beginning and end, answer readers’ questions, have clean transitions for each paragraph, and tie everything together in a nice package.
- Banish bloat. Unnecessary words are a distraction. Cutting them makes content direct and readable. Start by deleting “very” and “really.” Really, it’s OK. Another tip: Don’t start sentences with “There are.” It’s weak and lazy. Make every word count.
- Power up wishy-washy. A strong, confident writing voice instills trust. Starting sentences with “I believe” and “I think we need to,” is a power stealer. Delete these and the message will be clear.
- Vaporize redundancies. The Department of Redundancy Department gives editors plenty to do. Examples include “at the present time” and “the end result.”
- Boycott buzzwords and jargon. Content should be accessible and understandable. Don’t try to fluff up writing with big, important-sounding words and industry terms. No one will read it.
- Pummel passive voice. Active voice is clear and concise, while passive voice is impersonal and adds unnecessary words. Passive voice also makes the subject ambiguous. “It was heard by Susan that a companywide audit was scheduled.” Who scheduled the audit?
- Fact-check. Trust but verify. Dates, names and places are examples of the content editors target.
- Plug holes. Weak writing leaves unanswered questions and frustrates readers. Holes can range from a click-bait headline that doesn’t tie back to the content to a story that trails off without resolution.
- Spice it up. Varying sentence length and punctuation is one way editors put the sparkle in ho-hum content. Other tricks of the trade: incorporating long and short paragraphs, substituting power words for weak words, and making dull headlines shiny.
- Polish until its professional. Grammar, punctuation, spelling and style errors will burn a writer’s reputation faster than using alternative facts. Writers often miss these, especially when they’ve read their copy 10 times.
An amazing editor is behind every piece of effective content. Whether they work on websites, e-books, blog posts, case studies, email campaigns, articles, brochures, postcards, or other initiatives, editors make content the best it can be.
Have you worked with an editor? How did it help your content? Share your experience in the comments.