Let’s Get Technical: Editing & Proofreading Tips

The submissions period is now open for the Fall 2015 Issue and before you rush to submit your story or poem, read about the most common writing issues we’ve encountered and how you can fix them.

Typewriter (2)

Some of the most common issues found in writing submissions:

  1. Grammar/clarity errors
  2. Telling versus showing
  3. Problems with structure, pacing, and flow

So, how do you fix them?

Read Backwards//Ask A Friend

Spotting grammatical and clarity errors is easier when you read your work backwards because it separates you from rhythm and flow of the piece, and lets you focus on each word and how it’s operating in the sentence. Also consider recruiting a friend to proofread. A reader with fresh eyes can really help you identify confusing ideas, sentences, etc.

Dialogue & Details

When we review a fiction/nonfiction submission, we first scan the piece and look for large chunks of narrative with very little dialogue. This is a good indicator that the narrator/author is doing a lot of the leg work in terms of setting the scene and telling the story, instead of showing how these events or scenes play out. In poetry, we look for sensory details that enhance the reader’s experience, and show’s instead of tell’s about the poem’s subject or intention.

Ask Questions

For problems with structure, pacing, and flow, first ask yourself, “What am I writing about? What is my intention(s)?” Then consider, “Where does the piece begin?” and “How does each scene/line/stanza move it forward?”

Other Resources:

25 Editing Tips for Tightening Your Copy (via The Write Life)
How to Revise, Edit and Proofread Your Writing (via Daily Writing Tips)
Eight Simple Tips for Editing Your Own Work (via Write to Done)


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