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Strategies for Editing University Writing Center Jaclyn Wells.

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1 Strategies for Editing University Writing Center Jaclyn Wells

2 Revising vs. Editing We often use the words “revise” and “edit” interchangeably, but they do differ.  When you revise a piece of writing, you’re typically looking at higher-order concerns like purpose, structure, and development.higher-order concerns  When you edit a piece of writing, you’re typically looking at lower-order concerns like spelling, sentence structure, and punctuation. These types of concerns can become higher- order issues if they significantly affect the meaning of your writing.lower-order concerns

3 The Writing Process Revising and editing are both important, but it can be useful to make major revisions before you edit. You want to make sure your ideas are developed and that you’re addressing the assignment prompt appropriately before you begin looking at and playing with your writing sentence-by-sentence. Today, we will focus on editing. But do not forget that revising for higher-order concerns is also an essential part of the writing process.

4 General Strategies: Process Give yourself a break It’s nearly impossible to find errors when you’ve been staring at the same essay for three hours. You have to take a break before you return with a fresh eye, even if you can only take 5 minutes. Leave time Many errors are made when we write and edit quickly, or when we do not leave ourselves enough time to edit after the writing is done. You must leave yourself time to edit carefully and separately from writing.

5 General Strategies: Reading Read slowly. Read through your draft very slowly. When looking for errors, your eyes and brain can’t keep up with your normal reading speed. You need to slow it down. Read aloud Read aloud to find errors you wouldn’t otherwise. This strategy can also help you find sentences that are technically correct but sound awkward. Read backward Read your paper from back to front to catch errors. This forces you to look at your writing sentence by sentence and can prevent your mind from making corrections automatically instead of seeing errors.

6 Other General Strategies Ask for help It can be helpful to enlist the help of a friend or a UWC tutor as you edit. UWC tutors will not edit your writing for you, but they can help you find and correct errors and refine your sentence-level style. Be the reader As best you can, put yourself in the reader’s place. Imagine that you’re seeing this writing for the first time. Taking a break can help you do this. Track your patterns Track the errors you tend to make. When you edit, what do you find yourself correcting all the time? When you get feedback from friends, teachers, or tutors, what do they always seem to note? Keep a record and check your writing against it.

7 Finding Common Errors Below are some common errors you should look for when editing. Even the most experienced writers make such errors, especially when in a hurry to meat a deadline.  Spelling, particularly homonyms like meet/meat  Left out or doubled words  Missing or unnecessary apostrophes Apostrophes indicate possession and contractions Apostrophes not necessary to make words plural

8 More Common Errors You should also look for:  Fragment sentences Fragment sentences  Run-ons and comma splices Run-ons and comma splices  Subject-verb agreement Subject-verb agreement  Verb tense consistency Verb tense consistency  Parallel structure Parallel structure  Pronoun usage Pronoun usage  Dangling modifiers Dangling modifiers

9 Editing for Style: Definite Actors and Actions Clear and effective sentence have clear actors and actions. In other words, readers should know who is doing what. As you edit, look at each sentence and ask, “Who is the actor? What is the action?” Consider the following sentence: On Halloween, children dress up as goblins and princesses and go house-to-house to get candy. Here, the actor (or who) is “children.” The actions are “dress up…” and “go house-to-house.”

10 Editing for Style: Strong Verbs Sometimes, writers find themselves relying too much on “to be” verbs: is, am, are, was, were, been, and being. While there is (ha!) nothing fundamentally wrong with using “to be” verbs, replacing some of them with stronger verbs brings life to your writing. Consider the following edit: The sun is really bright today. The sun gleams brightly today. As you edit for style, look for uses of is, are, etc. Consider whether you can replace some of them with stronger verbs.

11 Editing for Style: Avoiding Passive Voice A passive construction takes the actor out of the sentence. Consider the following examples: My husband burned our dinner. (active) The dinner was burnt. (passive) Though there are good reasons for using passive voice, using too many passive constructions harms your writing. Passive voice:  Obscures meaning  Sounds unnatural  Overworks the reader  Distracts from the actor, action, and relationship between  Can sound shady, managerial, or weak

12 Editing for Style: The Paramedic Method Richard Lanham developed the paramedic method for Revising Prose. This editing strategy helps you make sentences more clear, concise, and reader-centered. The paramedic method provides a step-by-step process for cutting unnecessary words, using clear actors and actions, and avoiding weak and passive verbs. Let’s try the paramedic method.the paramedic method

13 Practice Let’s practice proofreading for correctness and style with a sample paragraph.

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