Writing: more like ruthless re-writing

TheWriting - more like ruthless rewriting Welcome Trust aims to nurture new writers we offer crucial advice 

The Welcome Trust Science Writing Prize is open for entries. Until May 11th it welcomes submissions from scientists, students and amateur writers who can compete to be published in the Guardian or Observer and win £1000 in cash.

The competition aims to motivate and nurture the next generation of writers; previous winners including famous science journalist Ed Yong.

In the run up to the submission deadline the trust runs a series of articles that offer anecdotes and advice to aspiring writers and competition entrants.

A series of advice

Akshat Rathi edits science and data journalism for of The Conversation UK and recently added to the series to share his experience of the most common writing mistakes and how to avoid them.

Published in The Guardian his article offers nuggets of advice in check list form: the perfect print out companion to keep along-side you when editing your work.

Hidden modestly in his list of questions every author should ask themselves is a question that eclipses all others: have you edited your work?

According to The Oxford Dictionary, editing is to “prepare (written material) for publication by correcting, condensing or otherwise modifying it.” This effort really incorporates most of Rathi’s other points.

Edit, edit and edit some more

“As the old adage goes: writing is mostly rewriting,” Rathi begins his piece. Experience leads us to agree, although this is where our opinions diverge. Rathi reckons that “first drafts are hard”; I find that ideas pour onto the page and my enthusiasm to write rapidly fills up any word count.

But a second glance shows errors, repetition, sudden jumps in ideas. I put on my stern editor face and get ruthless with my words.

I find that editing is by far the trickier task. Which bits to cut and which to save? Should the sentence I so lovingly crafted be cut in favour of a simpler phrase? In most cases, yes. It can be a demoralising process. But you do not get a diamond from rock without smoothing away the rough edges.

Scientia Scripta knows that good writing depends on ruthless editing. To be ruthless you must forget the hours put into each paragraph.


If you would like further guidance with editing your writing, please get in touch and we will be happy to help.

Filed under: Communication strategy,science copywriting,science writing | By Deborah on April 25, 2014 at 6:21 am

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