How To Be A Good Writer? Be An Excellent Editor
By: Taylor Davies

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I will preface this post by saying that it’s become a goal for me as a writer and editor over here at IFB to start limiting most of my posts to 500 words or under. In a very meta move, I will now attempt to do that in this post… about editing.

Self-editing is one of the most challenging parts of writing, but also one of the most rewarding. A concise, well-written post gets to the point and entertains the audience in perfect harmony. It’s not easy, but feedback from your readers will give you a good idea of what kind of content (and how much) they want, so let your stats act as your editorial assistant.

To get you started, keep these ideas in mind when editing your content:

 

Avoid writing a novel.

I’m sure I won’t be the first to tell you that just because someone can write a lot, doesn’t mean they can write well. Being able to prattle on and on about something isn’t always entertaining, it’s often excruciatingly boring. Blogging was always intended to be a short-form publishing platform, so keep that in mind with your posts. Avoid run-on sentences, and keep an eye out for repetitive phrases.

Watch your word choice.

Many blogs focus on being heavily image-driven, but your words can be an incredibly powerful selling point as well. Choose wisely and choose creatively! Consult a thesaurus (or our thesaurus) to give your text vibrancy and spice.

Break up your sentences and paragraphs.

Blog readers have notoriously short attention spans, so don’t expect them to hang around long if you present them with a gigantic blob of text. Readers love punchy, quick ideas and sentences that are easy to process and then move on. Keep your paragraphs down to two or three sentences – and break up text with images.

Ugh, grammar.

Am I right? It’s so dry and boring, and fixing it can feel unimportant and tedious. However, even if you’re not the most prolific and genius writer in the blogosphere, sentences and phrases that read correctly will put you ahead of the game. I know it sounds dry, but use capitalization and build your content around full sentences. Watch your commas and apostrophes. Lastly, watch for these common grammar errors.

Get to the point.

Say what you’re going to say, and say it with succinct creativity. What I mean is – have fun with your writing, be silly, be inventive – but don’t lose yourself in the wordplay. Tell your readers the who, what, when, where (wear), and why.

 

Boom. 445 words!

For More: Elements of a Good Blog II: Content Editing, 10 Tips To Be The Best Writer You Can Be

Comments

  1. Avatar of Ashley Robison

    LAWDY! Thank you for including grammar. A comma is no substitute for a peroid, no matter how stream of conscious your writing is.

  2. Jenn Staz says:

    Great idea to keep posts under 500 words. For your feedback: I love shorter posts. Also thanks for the reminder to keep blocks of text short. I have to remember that the way I read blogs (skimming, mostly) is how at least half of my readers read my blog.

  3. Avatar of Lauren - Slowburn Fastburn

    Great post, I always edit my posts so many times before publishing them. Great tips!

    x lauren
    http://slowburnfastburn.com

  4. Avatar of
    Dressing With Desire says:

    Thank you so much, your posts are always helpful and make my blog that much better :)

    http://dressingwithdesire.blogspot.com/

  5. Donna says:

    Another helpful post! I’ve noticed in general that proper writing doesn’t seem as important to many people, even in professional publications. Seeing improper spelling, grammar and/or punctuation makes me think the writer or publisher just didn’t care that much.
    Donna
    http://www.prettysparklythings.blogspot.com

  6. Avatar of Onianwah
    Barbara says:

    Sometimes I still wonder why people can’t understand the fact that texting language is totally unacceptable on social media, least of all in a blog post.
    Thanks for this post again and again. I have read so many online articles about how to write for web but some people just don’t get it.
    Barbara
    http://barbsiesmusings.blogspot.com/
    Lagos, Nigeria

  7. Thanks a lot,you are highly informative

  8. Avatar of Filipa
    Filipa says:

    Amazing article! I don’t like bloggers who write a novel on their blogs, I get lost somewhere between the sentences and leave without commenting on their blog.
    Grammar is quite important, just like you said. I always read my posts three or four times before publishing to avoid that kind of mistakes.

    I like these ideas and I’ll definitely keep them in mind!
    xx
    Filipa from http://ohmyfilipa.blogspot.com/

  9. Clara says:

    Maybe i’m biased because I’m a linguistics major, but grammar is important, y’all!

    Capitalization is a matter of style, so do with that what you will. But spelling (and watching out for common errors like its/it’s, there/their, et cetera) is super important! Do it wrong and your readers will get confused, and instead of thinking “Oh what a great post!” they’ll be thinking “Did she really mean that or did she mean to type something else?”

    Grammar isn’t dry either. Grammar is intertwined with style, and style’s what we’re all about :)

  10. I recently learned while attending a class on SEO that most search engines prefer posts that are a minimum of 300 words in length and that have a solid first paragraph (as in, the first paragraph has at least two sentences). Any thoughts on that?

  11. Avatar of MonicaP
    MonicaP says:

    I love shorter posts as well .. that have a left hand margin. I’m not a fan of all centered text – but that’s just me.

    Monica
    http://www.pear-shaped-gal.com/

  12. Di says:

    There’s actually a comma splice in the first body paragraph of your article. This post doesn’t have very substantive content as is, and I think an error like that is especially discrediting.

  13. Avatar of Yazmina from Girl with a Banjo

    Thanks for sharing this kind of posts!
    I am Spanish and have always lived between Spain and Italy, but always had business relations with English-speaking people and blog in English.
    I would say that my oral English I am pretty good! However, writing is a very challenging activity since my brain tries to reuse the Spanish grammar all over the sentences. Somehow my mother-tongue keeps controlling my brain :) .
    I am trying to get better anyway!

  14. Avatar of Laura Steven
    Laura Steven says:

    YES! I work as a subeditor so am always highly critical of blogs with poor spelling/punctuation. I’m really not very likely to hit the follow button if something is badly written. There’s no point having interesting things to say, but doing so in a rubbish style. But again, that’s probably the journalism major in me talking.

    You don’t need to use split infinitives and passive structures or whatever perfectly, but typos, lack of punctuation and the like are so irritating. There’s really no excuse unless English is your second language. Yes, we may “just” be fashion bloggers not hard news journalists, but it’s still crucial in creating a credible blog.

    Interesting what you’re saying about post length. I’m trying to cut mine back but to a certain extent, if you don’t put your own twist on the basic words, what distinguishes you from the next blog? It’s hard to be unique in 100 words. I do agree 500 words is a nice length, though. And from an SEO perspective, you typically need a strong and lengthy first paragraph.

    - Laura @ http://polishedpanache.blogspot.com/

  15. Avatar of Denysia Yu
    Denysia Yu says:

    I agree with the grammar part! I feel like every time I read a blog, I’m always going to check to see if they misspell something.

  16. Avatar of Petya
    Petya says:

    Thanks for the great article, I loved it! All of the ideas are important.
    I always write short posts in my blog, so the first one wasn’t that important for me, but the others was!

    http://instyle21.blogspot.com

  17. cate says:

    Nice article, but you misspelled “comma” as “coma.” I’m especially disappointed because this is a post about editing!

    Does anyone here at IFB know how to proofread? I’m constantly seeing typos and misspelled words in published articles. For example, the post the other day about blogs having “duel personalities.” You mean “dual”!

    Fail, fail, fail. :(

  18. Avatar of Khensani Mohlatlole

    It isn’t that I don’t enjoy reading but for some reason whenever I see an extremely long comment/blog post/Facebook status my eyes just roll to the back of my head and I fall asleep at my keyboard. Or I scroll down. Most of the time it’s the latter.
    You’re very right; blog posts aren’t meant to be long. They need to be like a really cute A-line skirt–long enough to cover everything but short enough to keep things interesting.

    http://www.glitterdaiquiri.blogspot.com

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