Ways to help polish your writing

Ways to help polish your writing

This was one of the recurring questions at the last meet up.

Every story you write needs to be edited before they will be published here. This also goes for other material you may want to send off to contests, other markets – magazines, journals and anthologies. It is imperative that before you send your work off to an editor, or before you click that submit button, you have done your best to polish it.

There are some surefire ways to help one do this and I’lljust summarize some of the answers I pointed out.

1. Give it to someone else to read. The fact is that after writing a piece of work, a story, poem or article, you think it is perfect. This is because you think you typed it the way it came to your head. In correct sentences, grammar on point and all that. Closer to the truth is that our brains and hands are that distance apart. Some things are lost in translation. Sometimes, our brains are faster, and other times, the hands are, and then something would have been messed up. This is where anfresh set of eyes becomes invaluable.

Also when you have read your words over and again, you become blind to the errors and read it almost like you were scanning. It is now time to give such work to a friend, family, or colleague to read. Make sure it is someone you trust their grasp of language. They will surely find some things for you to correct.

2. Print it out on paper. I didn’t understand this myself when I first heard it but after doing it a few times, I have come to know how very useful it is. I write on the laptop and after spending hours staring at a computer screen, all the letters seem to blur together into magically enhanced text. My eyes are tired, my brain is in overdrive, something has to give.

So when I print and read, it’s like reading another material and I can more easily spot typos and stuff. If you feel it’s too wasteful to do this, you can convert the MS word document to PDF and see if that works like reading an eBook. If you are typing here on the site, use the preview button to see how it would look when someone reads it on the front page. That small change of environment is better than nothing, I can assure you.

3. Read your stories aloud. Most of us read silently, both when reading other material, books, magazines, newspapers, etc and so we become used to that and reading out loud sounds strange. But you’ll be surprised how much help it can be if you do that to your work. Reading silently, like reading continuously on the computer screen can blind you to errors, but changing that pattern, by reading aloud, tries to correct this.

You can make it more fun by reading different characters in different voices and accents, having a friend read to you or read different parts with you, or simply having an accesiblity enabled computer read it back to you from a PDF.

18 thoughts on “Ways to help polish your writing” by Myne (@Myne)

  1. The practice of printing on paper and re-editing has helped me a lot… I encourage this practice… But I do not fill comfortable with some views of some people about one’s writing.. If you don’t write in their style, then your work is rubbish… Even on NS, we see positive and negative comments of a particular work that opposes themselves…

    1. That’s the joy of writing and life too. Everyone is, and should be entitled to their own opinions, no matter how stupid it may sound. Then again, it’s not everything you hear that is useful…..or useless. It comes with the job, lol. I for one would hate if ALL the comments on any of my story are one dimensional. Life would be less interesting, ahaha.

    2. I agree with Ayo. At the end of the day, the work is yours and you have final say over it. Except you sign onto a publisher and it becomes theirs.

  2. Thanks for the tips, very useful. i go with Idoko on the subjects of misguided criticisms however, here, we learn so any form of criticism should not deter but encourage our writers.

    funny enough, i found a typo here too:
    help one do this and Iā€™lljust summarize some of the answers I pointed out.

    just being mischievous….

    1. I guess I’m human after all, lol…

      Earth to Myne..Earth to Myne..

  3. I agree with you Myne, every avenue should be applied to ensure minimal errors with one’s work.

  4. I agree with you too Myne. This is important for any writer.

  5. These are useful and essential tips. Thanks for this.

    I wanna join @xikay. He’s my partner in mischief, lol. Cos I found a typo too, “This is where anfresh set of eyes becomes invaluable.” And ironically, it’s true. My fresh set of eyes were indeed invaluable, ahaha. Just kidding.

  6. @ayokunle, when the barrage of criticism falls on you, i no go dey o.
    what all these poits to is the same point that MYNE has noted, MISTAKES ARE ALWAYS THERE and in there absence, there are chances for improvement. my editor always says; A HEADLINE CAN ALWAYS BE WRITTEN BETTER!

    1. You don dey this one oh, you no fit escape, lol. Again, I found a mistake in what you wrote, ahahaha….

      “what all these *poits to is the same point that MYNE has noted,….”

      1. hahahaha….no one seems safe. But I we’re excused since this is a messageboard..

  7. Yes, we learn and learn and continue to learn. Good tips,well summarised.

  8. thanks for all the comments guys and making it fun. I hope we can keep sharing like this.

  9. the printing on paper and editing thing works well for me.I feel i am at one with a piece of work if I can hold it in my hands and relate to it.

    Very valuable tips Myne.

    Thank you!!!

  10. i thank God for pple like you who have made it a point of duty to help writers.all your points have been noted.

  11. ‘…our dreams often come true when we help people on their way to achieving theirs.’

  12. Now I can relate with the preview, it works so well…there and then you can spot all typos….thanx Myne, our wish is only to get better & better.

  13. quite helpful point……..

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