You’ve spent hours and hours on a story or article. Maybe you’ve even spent months or years working on a book. Congratulate yourself. You’ve accomplished something important. But the work isn’t over. In fact, in many ways, the hardest work is just beginning.
Now it’s time for editing and rewriting.
“But why?” you moan. “Why do I have to edit? I liked the way it was the first time.”
Okay, maybe you did. But that doesn’t mean you got everything write. There could be some words spelled incorrectly. You might accidentally used a wrong verb tense. Or maybe your fingers just got a little sloppy and you used “your” when you meant to use “you’re.”
It happens. To all of us. To every single writer. Mistakes are made.
But that’s why you edit, to clean up your copy.
And why is editing important, one might ask?
Well, it depends upon why you are writing. Are you writing for practice, because you want to become a better writer? Are you writing in hopes of publication? Are you writing because you have to turn in a report to your teacher or your boss?
If so, you need your copy to be clean and precise. Not only will editors and publishers expect it, but clean copy goes a long way towards making them believe you are someone professional with whom they can work. Even if an editor decides not to use a story you are trying to sell him or her right now, if you had a well-edited story, they might remember that for the future and you could have an easier time selling them something later on.
Also, you want your readers to take you seriously. If something you’ve written is full of mistakes, the readers are going to go away thinking you’re unprofessional and you don’t know what you’re doing. Worse, they might go away downright angry and think of you as uneducated or as an idiot. Either way, your readers aren’t going to go away happy. And if your readers aren’t happy, then they’re probably going to pass on reading anything else from you in the future.
Seemingly little things like grammar and spelling and punctuation are important. Your readers will notice when something is incorrect. Maybe not every reader will notice something wrong, but enough of them will.
Still think editing isn’t important? Well, let me ask you something. How often have you been reading along in a nice novel or newspaper article, then suddenly you notice a mistake. What happens? Some of us might get angry and promise to never read from that publication or writer again. Others of us will just shake our heads and go on. But either way, you as a reader are taken out of the context of the writing. In fiction especially, this is death; you don’t want your readers transported to another world or time, then suddenly have them yanked back to reality because they found something wrong.
Good editing and rewriting helps make your writing stronger. But possibly more importantly, it will keep your editors and readers happy. And that’s what most of us want, because that will mean they will want to read more stuff from us.
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