What to Cut?
Probably the most important key to editing: If it doesn’t hold your interest, it won’t hold your reader’s interest.
Are there exceptions? Well if you’re producing content on a subject that you don’t care about in the first place, then none of it’s going to hold your interest, but that aside, you can generally trust your own instincts when it comes to trimming content down, whether you wrote it yourself or you had some help from a blog writer.
There are talents possessed only by experienced copy editors, but generally speaking, the main thing an editor brings to the table is an extra set of eyes. Whether you’re editing someone else’s work or your own, you can almost always improve a piece by excising the following types of content:
The concluding paragraph is usually the only place where you need to repeat any information or statements made earlier in an article of blog post. If a writer repeats themselves once or twice, maybe they’re just making the point so that it will really stick. If they’re repeating it five times in a row instead of moving on to the next paragraph, they’re just filling space.
“And so,” “bearing that in mind,” “this being said.” There are a lot of cliches that can be used to pad out an article and make it appear a little meatier than it really is. This kind of filler content can be used to pace out a piece so that it reads well, but that’s not usually why it’s there.
Whole Sentences and Paragraphs That Don’t Say Anything
Most professional writers aren’t going to fill a blog post with totally meaningless fluff, but you see this with a lot of beginners and amateurs. “A degree may prove necessary unless you don’t need one.” is a clear example of a useless sentence. There are also those oxymoronic sentences that state what anyone who can read would already know. “Star Wars fans are happy to see a new movie in the franchise.” Well duh, that’s why they’re called Star Wars fans.
These tips can help you to be on the lookout for words, phrases, sentences and paragraphs that add nothing to your content, but you should trust your own instincts first and foremost.
The only question that really matters: Do you get bored reading it?
Gilbert S is a writer and artist who lives in rural New Mexico with his dog, Sir Kay, and his wife.