Learning the Basics of Essay Editing in No Time
Editing an essay is that process of fine-tuning an essay. Editing happens after a rough draft and final draft, because at both stages, you can improve the work even further. The first stage of editing is called “revision,” and the second is called “proofreading.”
Editing and Revising
When you first write an essay, you want to get down the basics of both your writing and the interwoven quotes, paraphrases and research until you have a basic rough draft.
What I do then is print that rough draft, sit it beside my table or laptop computer and begin the revision process. I look back at the rough draft and improve every single sentence until I have a new draft, in which the writing has been perfected, the research has been properly cited, and the whole thing reads like it is at least approaching final copy.
Simmering—You’ve Got to Let it Simmer Awhile
You know how a good pot of stew gets better when you walk away from it and leave it alone for a while? The flavors improve and it takes on more depth when you leave it alone for a brief period.
Learn to step away from your writing during the final stages of proofreading. This helps on several levels. You’ll be able to look at the essay with “new eyes” if it is not still so fresh in your mind, and you’ll be able to see even more where your weaknesses lie. Your mind will be fresh and rested as well, and you’ll be able to strategize even more ways of improving it.
While I was working on my doctorate, one of my favorite professors of literature was looking over one of my essays and he told me “It would have gotten even better if you had let it breathe for awhile and came back to it later.”
And this was one of the most valuable lessons I ever learned about writing.
At the final proofreading stage you will want to focus solely on mechanics now. Start with a spelling and grammar check first. After you have completed this, print your essay out and sit down to it with a pen.
Mark any errors you see as you read the essay aloud—this is important because reading it aloud will help you find more errors than ever.