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Edit Prose like a Pro, by Stephanie Gayle


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Edit Prose like a Pro, by Stephanie Gayle

  1. 1. Stephanie GayleEDIT PROSE LIKE A PRO MIT Media Lab Januar y 27, 2011
  2. 2. WHAT IS EDITING? A substantive reworking of text with an aim to improve it What it isn’t:  Mere copyediting (checking for typos, basic grammar errors)
  4. 4. TIME Multiple drafts are not nice —they are necessary Time between drafts helps you get enough distance to spot error Optimize your editing time by doing nothing else Go through it all from start to finish —don’t make changes as you go (Make notations: fix, cut, awkward)
  5. 5. READERS Good readers are worth their weight in chocolate Who to pick?  Someone who is a good writer  Someone other than your mother/father/partner  Someone who knows what you’re writing about  Someone who doesn’t know what you’re writing about Be a reader  It will help you become a better editor
  6. 6. MAKING SENSE Keep asking yourself ―Does this make sense?‖ Do the arguments or does the storyline follow naturally? Watch out for abrupt shifts in tone, reasoning, or tense
  7. 7. TIPS Read aloud Keep backups of old drafts Routine – carve out space for yourself If you get cross-eyed, stop
  8. 8. KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE Familiarize yourself with the form Keep references to hand If you know someone who’s published where you want to, or been through what you’re doing, ask questions of them
  9. 9. CRITICISM? Be open to it No need to be a sponge Some people (editors) will interpret the same prose dif ferently
  10. 10. WHAT TO AVOID Starting too late (often you can start three paragraphs in ) Writing tics  If you know you overuse a word, phrase, or grammar bit (en dashes) do a ―find‖ search on your document and weed out multiples Citations that don’t convey information  Fillers don’t do anything but add to the word count Beautiful sentences that don ’t advance your work Repetition Smart sounding words
  11. 11. GO FORTH AND EDIT! The first draft of anything is shit. ~ Ernest Hemingway