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D. Wayne Dworsky

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The Art of Self-Editing
By D. Wayne Dworsky
Last edited: Monday, October 22, 2007
Posted: Tuesday, October 16, 2007

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Recent articles by
D. Wayne Dworsky

• The Fabulous Potato
• A Brief History of New York City Schools
• Ten Ways Life on Earth Could End
• The Incredible Praying Mantis
• About The Carpenter of Auguliere
           >> View all 6
This article attempts to illustrate ways writers can use to enhance their prose with self-editing.

The Art of Self-Editing

If you want to embrace the full experience of authoring, try <i>self-editing.</i> This is the chance to examine your work from an objective point of view, something that is very difficult to develop.  Here are a few suggestions that might stimulate your editorial skills.  Set your word processor to find common words, such  as "and, then, but, or, just, so" and and remove those.  You don't need them.  Next, look for generic verbs such as "put, go, want, was, were, etc.," and replace them with specific words such as "throw, toss, meander and march," just to mention a few.  You can look up these generic words in a thesaurus and find specific words to replace them.  Generic words invariably make writing boring by their repetition and commonality, whereas specific words make your content more vivid and alive.

Another aspect of the self-editing process relates to how you organize your material.  If you're writing a book, careful consideration should be given to how you organize information.  In a work of fiction, often writers use a prologue to introduce the drama.  In non-fiction, a table of contents helps to direct readers, followed by a brief introduction.  Chapters are the life-blood of all books.  They should define a period or episode of the theme of the book.

I hope the readers of this article find this information useful.  Please help me by making comments on it.  I welcome any constructive criticism. 


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Reviewed by Reginald Johnson 4/9/2009
Excellent advice, Mr. Dworsky, applicable to the novice or expert.

Regards ...

Reginald V. Johnson
Reviewed by Elizabeth Bishop 10/17/2007
I understand that you don't need the word "that" but had never really given much thought to the other generic words commonly used. Thank you for your observation. Elizabeth

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