As writers, our initial task is to get something down on paper, uncensored. If we want to make a piece “public”, or refine it for our own satisfaction, then the process of crafting begins.
I often think of crafting as sculptors have described: setting the sculpture free from the marble. So it is with writing. We have extraneous words, not the precise word, unclear thoughts, a lack of cohesiveness. In refining his or her work, the writer employs some basic editing tools in order to set his or her piece free of what is superfluous.
- Have nearby: a dictionary, a synonym finder and a rhyming dictionary (if you are rhyming poetry)
- Look for imprecise words…ask yourself if there is a better word. When you find the precise word, you typically have an economy of words.
- Notice if the words you’ve chosen are interesting and varied.
- Have you used figurative language effectively?
- Look within the structure of a sentence and ask yourself “Can I say this better?”
- Read your piece over paragraph by paragraph or verse by verse. Within each paragraph or verse, look for unnecessary repetition.
- Remember the beginning, middle and end segments of a paragraph. Is the paragraph cohesive unto itself?
- Does one paragraph or verse flow into the next?
- Have you said what you want to say?
- Is there a conclusion?
- Get in the habit of giving your poem or prose piece a title.
These are a few crafting tools that you can employ, one at a time. This list is by no means a comprehensive one.
This type of crafting is a word-by-word, line-by-line, paragraph-by-paragraph, page-by-page process. Don’t attempt this when you are tired.
NOTE: There are downloadable editing programs that you can find online though I haven’t personally tried any of them.
Ultimately, if you are publishing, hire a professional editor for refined and expert editing. They have their very specific tools and aren’t emotionally attached to what you have written.