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Editing Tips from Writing Class

your book writing coachI’m in the midst of editing manuscripts and providing feedback for participants in my Bring Your Book to Life Program and it’s thrilling to witness the variety, the wisdom and the diversity of voices!

I thought I’d share a editing tips that are coming up consistently and that might help you with your writing.

1. Write to a Specific Person: imagine a specific person in mind when you write. You might even picture this person in your mind. They can be real or imagined. Your writing will automatically become more engaging and conversational when you do this. When you write to a mass of people, often the writing possesses less vitality and creates a distance between you and your reader. My pet peeve: Don’t write “many of you” when addressing your readers. Readers imagine your voice in their head and connect in a one to one relationship. Reading “many of you” takes them right out of that intimate connection.

2. Use Active Verbs; Avoid Passive Ones: Don’t worry about this in a first draft, but in your initial edit, you’ll find that if you take out 90% of the passive voice (verbs like is, was, has, had, are, etc.)  the active verbs (listen, jump, shift, rest) provide more energy to your writing.

3. Show, Show, Show: I know you’ve heard this one before, but if you want your writing to come to life for your readers, employ the different senses, use stories and anecdotes, even statistics, used well, can paint a picture and show rather than tell.

Another editing tip? Perform one or more rounds of editing by reading aloud; you’ll catch different issues from reading in your head. I’m keeping it short today–go forth and write–or edit!

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Lisa Tener

Lisa Tener is an award-winning book writing coach who assists writers in all aspects of the writing process—from writing a book proposal and getting published to finding one’s creative voice. Her clients have appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CBS Early Show, The Montel Williams Show, CNN, Fox News, New Morning and much more. They blog on sites like The Huffington Post, Psychology Today and WebMD.

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Comments

  1. Margaret Welty says

    Lisa! I have over 45,000 well organized (outline + Table of Contents) words written. I just looked at some un-edited text and I was using “We” there — which I changed to “YOU” for that one to one feel. Sampling the verbs in this section, it sounds pretty good: See, follow, do, draw, leave, swell, fall, bulges, rises, flows, turns, pulls . . . AND, lots to show via words and some is shown via illustrations that complement the text and concepts.
    Thanks for your very useful editing suggestions.
    Much Appreciated!
    You are the BEST!!!
    Margaret

  2. Bryan Collins says

    Lisa,

    Great post. I write a lot of content for businesses and I always shudder when I see sentences stuffed with passive verbs.

    Active verbs always energise a piece of writing.

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