Editing lessons from tradies #2

Editing lessons from tradies #2

(with apologies to all the excellent tradies out here)

Editing is really about consistency. The human brain likes working in patterns - it saves itself time and energy by doing so. Hence, when something doesn't fit the pattern, it jars. The brain stops whatever it was doing (reading, calculating, memorising) and says, 'Hang on, what's wrong here?' It finds it very difficult to move on until it has figured out what is wrong.

This is what happens at the subconscious level. That might not seem important when you're writing your marketing material, your book or your memoirs. But consider the reader. They don't know that their brains are correcting all those inconsistencies. All they know is that they aren't as engaged as when they began to read what you wrote, they feel tired, they can't concentrate. And they stop reading - exactly what you don't want them to do!

For instance, the printer of this series of videos didn't check the layout of the whole series - oops!

Do you write 'focused' or 'focussed'; 1st or first; 2 October, 2nd October or October 2? All are valid options but if you interchange them in the one document, book, series etc., your reader's brain will get confused.

Sometimes, I have a client who asks me if I would begin working on something and they'll send me the rest later when they've finished writing it. A piece of writing needs to be consistent from start to finish. Ideas change as we continue writing. What the spelling, formatting and way of expression in the first part may be quite different by the end. Review the whole piece of writing before you push 'post' or send it to the publisher or printer. Better still, compile a style guide before you begin.

Best of all, hire an editor. We're trained to look for inconsistencies so that you don't have to.

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