Advertising
Advertising

6 Ways You Should Revise Your Writing, Every Time

6 Ways You Should Revise Your Writing, Every Time

When someone tells you a piece you’ve written doesn’t “flow well,” it can be maddeningly unspecific. But there’s good news: it’s surprisingly easy to fix. We’ve all heard the same advice before: read your work aloud, sleep on it, always proofread, etc. That’s all good guidance, but as an editor, I prefer a more analytical approach to writing—so I’ve assembled a few concrete tips to tighten your prose, improve your overall flow, and produce clear, easy-to-read copy. After you’ve written a first draft, follow these steps:

1. Reduce “to be” verbs.

If a piece of copy feels wordy, weighed down, or difficult to read, it’s often because you’ve gotten carried away with “to be” verbs. These include be, am, is, are, was, were, being, and been. “To be” verbs overload copy because they require secondary verbs. Often you can eliminate “to be” verbs by getting straight to your action verb. For example, instead of saying “I’m not able to do that,” you could say, “I can’t do that.” By following this principle, you’ll streamline your prose.

Advertising

2. Limit prepositions.

Just like reducing “to be” verbs, axing prepositions tightens your writing. Try to limit yourself to one or two prepositional phrases per sentence. Using more than that can make sentences long and difficult to follow. If you overuse prepositions, brainstorm other ways to write sentences and break up ideas. Some prepositions are unavoidable—and you shouldn’t try to eliminate them completely—but use them sparingly.

3. Vary sentence structures.

Even the best writers tend to lean on favorite words, phrases, and sentence structures. For readers, however, this type of  repetition leads to disinterest. To combat reader boredom, vary the way you start your sentences. In the process, you can usually write better transitions and improve sentence-level cadence. Think of sentence length as another technical instrument in your writing toolkit—a way to mindfully emphasize certain points and de-emphasize others.

Advertising

4. Avoid noun strings.

A noun string is exactly what it sounds like: too many nouns in a row. Noun strings can be difficult to avoid, especially in business or technical writing. And sometimes it’s impossible to dodge both noun strings and prepositions, so you’re forced to choose whichever sounds best. The important thing is to be aware of them and how they affect your writing. Unpack your noun strings, write them in different ways, and read sentences out loud to find the smoothest path.

5. Cut unnecessary words.

Check your work for redundancy, excessive modifiers, and empty words. If you repeat similar ideas in more than one sentence, try to condense. Be wary of words like modifiers—adjectives or adverbs that describe nouns. Focus on clarity, and ask yourself if each modifier enhances your meaning. Likewise, cut phrases such as in my opinion, kind of, actually, truly, basically, and definitely. By cutting unnecessary words, you’ll emphasize your main points, instead of burying the lead.

Advertising

6. Examine the cohesion.

Editing for cohesion means seeing how each sentence and paragraph contributes to the overall whole. Each line should build off the previous one, and paragraphs should begin with topic sentences, gently leading the reader along a journey to the conclusion. On both the sentence and paragraph level, use transitional phrases and reference old information before introducing anything new, so the reader can easily follow along.

Good writing doesn’t have to be guesswork or natural-born talent. It simply takes time. Your revision process should, in part, become a scavenger hunt, complete with the knowledge of what you should look to eliminate and reword. Whether you’re a professional writer or someone who dreads putting words together, if you follow these six simple steps, your writing will improve tremendously.

Advertising

Featured photo credit: Nic McPhee via flickr.com

More by this author

6 Ways You Should Revise Your Writing, Every Time

Trending in Communication

1 How to Motivate People Around You and Inspire Them 2 Feeling Stuck in Life? How to Never Get Stuck Again 3 12 Things You Should Remember When Feeling Lost in Life 4 13 Ways Happy People Think and Feel Differently 5 How to Find Inner Peace and Lasting Happiness

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on January 21, 2020

How to Motivate People Around You and Inspire Them

How to Motivate People Around You and Inspire Them

If I was a super hero I’d want my super power to be the ability to motivate everyone around me. Think of how many problems you could solve just by being able to motivate people towards their goals. You wouldn’t be frustrated by lazy co-workers. You wouldn’t be mad at your partner for wasting the weekend in front of the TV. Also, the more people around you are motivated toward their dreams, the more you can capitalize off their successes.

Being able to motivate people is key to your success at work, at home, and in the future because no one can achieve anything alone. We all need the help of others.

So, how to motivate people? Here are 7 ways to motivate others even you can do.

Advertising

1. Listen

Most people start out trying to motivate someone by giving them a lengthy speech, but this rarely works because motivation has to start inside others. The best way to motivate others is to start by listening to what they want to do. Find out what the person’s goals and dreams are. If it’s something you want to encourage, then continue through these steps.

2. Ask Open-Ended Questions

Open-ended questions are the best way to figure out what someone’s dreams are. If you can’t think of anything to ask, start with, “What have you always wanted to do?”

“Why do you want to do that?”

Advertising

“What makes you so excited about it?”

“How long has that been your dream?”

You need this information the help you with the following steps.

Advertising

3. Encourage

This is the most important step, because starting a dream is scary. People are so scared they will fail or look stupid, many never try to reach their goals, so this is where you come in. You must encourage them. Say things like, “I think you will be great at that.” Better yet, say, “I think your skills in X will help you succeed.” For example if you have a friend who wants to own a pet store, say, “You are so great with animals, I think you will be excellent at running a pet store.”

4. Ask About What the First Step Will Be

After you’ve encouraged them, find how they will start. If they don’t know, you can make suggestions, but it’s better to let the person figure out the first step themselves so they can be committed to the process.

5. Dream

This is the most fun step, because you can dream about success. Say things like, “Wouldn’t it be cool if your business took off, and you didn’t have to work at that job you hate?” By allowing others to dream, you solidify the motivation in place and connect their dreams to a future reality.

Advertising

6. Ask How You Can Help

Most of the time, others won’t need anything from you, but it’s always good to offer. Just letting the person know you’re there will help motivate them to start. And, who knows, maybe your skills can help.

7. Follow Up

Periodically, over the course of the next year, ask them how their goal is going. This way you can find out what progress has been made. You may need to do the seven steps again, or they may need motivation in another area of their life.

Final Thoughts

By following these seven steps, you’ll be able to encourage the people around you to achieve their dreams and goals. In return, you’ll be more passionate about getting to your goals, you’ll be surrounded by successful people, and others will want to help you reach your dreams …

Oh, and you’ll become a motivational super hero. Time to get a cape!

More on Motivation

Featured photo credit: Thought Catalog via unsplash.com

Read Next