Editing & Revision

by Kat Coe

“Poetry: The Best words in the best order.”  ~ Samuel T. Coleridge.

I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking, But I’m not writing poetry, I’m writing Non-Fiction. And, you are correct about that.  You’re also wrong. Charles Baudelaire, who was, yes, a poet, but also an essayist, art critic and translator said, “Always be a poet, even in prose.”

Think about your favorite authors.  Why are they your favorites?  What is it, exactly, that you love about the way they write?  Is it their word choice?  The rhythm they create with those words?  The way the images they paint become real and sincere in your imagination?  Pay attention to what you love.

Pay attention, as well, to what you don’t like.  In most areas of life, if we’re honest, the things that irritate us about other people’s choices or behaviors are things that we don’t like in ourselves.  Where is your writing over-wrought?  Too terse?  Overly sentimental?  Muddy?

Editing and revision are essential parts of the craft of successful writing.  Learning to listen to feedback from other writers, mentors, readers, and texts, and applying some of that information to your work can only serve to strengthen your writing.

Don’t be afraid to cut words.  If you realize that you’ve only gotten to the point of your piece after having written 500 words – get rid of the beginning!  Throw it away, or save it for something else.  You must separate yourself from your writing enough to view it honestly and do whatever it takes to improve it.

As Ernest Hemingway once said,
“The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shock-proof shit detector.”

(all quotes from


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