E is for Editing


The internet is full of editors and proofreaders who can polish your prose and proof your resumes. And for high-stakes projects, it is great to be able to hire someone to help you out.


Most of us can't afford to hire someone to look over everything that we write. That means we have to develop a basic proficiency on our own, lest we be at a disadvantage in this ever competitive world we live in.

That's the bad news. The good news is that there are lots of things that you can do on your own to strengthen your editing and writing skills.  

Read up

There are some wonderful grammar & style books that are also a lot of fun to read:

Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation, by Lynne Truss

The Deluxe Transitive Vampire, by Karen Elizabeth Gordon.
Sin & Syntax by Constance Hale
When You Catch an Adjective, Kill It, by Ben Yagoda
Woe is I by Patricia T. Connor 

OK, not so fun, but the style bible for many is the Chicago Manual:

The Chicago Manual of Style 

The Elements of Style by Strunk & White is also a classic. 

These websites offer great tips: 

copy blogger
English grammar 101

Mignon Fogarty is a grammar goddess. She just is. Check her out. You'll see.


Mignon also does podcasts for NPR-- learn more here:     
 Wiki Mignon

Take a class
Classes can be expensive. If you need the structure, though, it might be worth investing in a writing class or two. Otherwise, if you are disciplined enough to do the lessons on your own, there are lots of free options:


Coursera is one of the giants of free online education. I've only linked the grammar class here, but they have other writing classes worth investigating, too.

Check out Khan Academy, Ted X & Stanford:




Other interesting links: 


tuition free classes about grammar




And lastly, of course, not free but so affordable it might as well be--new classes begin every week at Writers' Village:


Writing groups

Join a writing group, or grab some friends and start your own. There are lots of groups online, just do a Google search and you'll find many options. Give yourself time to find the right one. Sometimes it takes a little while to find the perfect fit, but it's worth it. We learn so much from critiquing others and being critiqued. 

Bonus: you might find a fellow writer who is willing to occasionally read your high-stakes work in exchange for your help when they need it.

Developing editorial style
Editing is such a critical part of the writing experience, and yet, explaining the basics is like trying to tell someone how to write. There are many different ways to do it, some of them contradictory, and that's ok. You will develop your own style as you write, and your own editorial process. 


  1. I need an editor, for all the small and short and long stuff I write -- too hard to find one, so I just go with my nemesis, my lack of spelling skills - or I would be inside a jail ran by by critic. GREAT POST!

  2. This is fantastic! I've often thought about going into editing and wondered what all I would need to do to get started.

    #AtoZChallenge F is for Fitzgerald

  3. The first editing book I turn to for its very useful discussion, positive tone, and amazing revision checklists is MANUSCRIPT MAKEOVER by Elizabeth Lyon. I like your post too for the many strategies and resources it offers. Now back to edit, edit, edit!

    1. Ah, that's a good one, Beth. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Eat, Shoots and Leaves is a very funny book that does remind us of what's important when it comes to grammar.

  5. Writing is, fun, exciting, satisfying and it can certainly be expensive. I think it's always worth paying for a proofreader, though. Thanks for sharing some useful links!
    Rosa Temple writes...

    1. Re the proofreader--I totally agree for important projects, def. a good idea!


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