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Editing your own work ... where to do begin?

When you're just starting out as any kind of writer, editing is a large part of your job, and copy editing is where we get down to the real nitty gritty stuff. This is editing on the fine-tooth scale, where you make sure the grammar, punctuation, spelling, clarity and continuity are absolutely accurate. You'll be looking at every sentence as a stand-alone, and checking to ensure you're not getting run-on sentences, which become hard to follow. You'll be looking at the sentence in the context of its own paragraph, then looking at that paragraph in the context of the one previous and the one after.

This level of editing might sound daunting, but don't sweat it. Copy editing is a skill, like tapdancing and baking bread to die for. Once you learn it, you'll do it so well, you're going to be asked to do it for other people. (You might be on your way to a career in freelance editing; and it does pay well. Now, this has to grab your attention. Hang out your shingle...! Hmmm.)

There is so much to consider under the heading of 'freelance editing,' we're breaking it up into a whole flock of posts. Here's the plan: Deal with one thing at a time. Nail it down, call it 'done' and go on to the next thing.

As we go, we'll index all subjects, in rational order; and here's where we are to date:

For example, the issue of clarity in your writing is often overlooked. It's vitally important for readers to be able to understand what you mean, but the misuse of pronouns, the wars that can happen between the subject and object of a verb, and so on, can undermine your clarity. You know what you meant in a certain sentence, but no one else does! If you write ambiguously, there can be three ways to understand something, and — people being people — two thirds of readers will take what you wrote the wrong way. As a freelance editing guru for your own work, you'll soon see how to remedy errors 'on the fly.'

Relax — it's quite easy to make peace on this battlefield. Need to get a quick start right here? Copy Editing 101! Here's where your freelance editing skills start to repay you a hundred-fold!

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