Re: How do you edit your own writing?

Subject: Re: How do you edit your own writing?
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- progeny -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 25 Jan 2001 10:50:58 -0800

"Hart, Geoff" wrote:

> It's pretty much impossible to edit yourself in terms of grammar or style,
> since other than obvious errors, you're (by definition) writing in a way
> that you find comfortable; the act of editing involves stumbling over what's
> uncomfortable, figuring out why that's the case, and fixing it.

I think that this is too much of a blanket statement. Possibly, an
expert could identify your writing no matter what you do. However,
if you are observant and aware of such matters, it is possible to
change or edit a good deal of your grammar and style.

For example, at any given time, I can tell you about half a dozen of
my own quirks: my pet phrases, my favorite sentence structures, and
so on. I say "at any given time" because these quirks change with
the years. With this knowledge, I could easily change at least the
most common aspects of my style. In fact, one of the things I always
edit for is an over-use of some of these mannerisms. I suppose this
is a special application of the "murder your darlings" quote about

Another way to change style is simply to focus very strongly on a
different audience. As you think of what the audience needs or
expect, your style should change - provided, of course, that your
audience analysis is detailed.

However, cultivating an awareness of style is difficult. Style isn't
really taught in school, even in graduate rhetoric classes. We don't
even have a decent vocabulary for discussing it. As a result, it is
very hard to think long or hard about it. But, if I can do so, I
suspect that many others can; I've known many writers who had more
style-awareness than I do.

Bruce Byfield 604.421.7177 bbyfield -at- progeny -dot- com
Director of Marketing and Communications, Progeny Linux Systems
Contributing Editor, Maximum Linux

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