5 Reasons Why Your Editor is More Than a Glorified Spell-Checker

5 Reasons Why Your Editor is More Than a Glorified Spell-Checker

by Steve Gamel

I wrote in last month’s column that every writer needs an editor. That’s not to say self-editing your work isn’t important – self-edits are crucial in the writing process. But writers shouldn’t make themselves the last line of defense before going to print.

Self-editing is self-sabotage. By the end of that column I gave 4 reasons why you need to self-edit AND get a second opinion.

The intent of today’s column is to drive home the point that editors are more than glorified spell-checkers. While they do look for grammatical errors, run-on sentences and misspellings, editors provide infinite value to a writer by sniffing out holes, clunks and shortcomings overlooked in self-edits.

Editors shape your writing. They make your article look the way you meant it to be.

Here are 5 reasons why editors are more than glorified spell-checkers.

Editors rid your writing of empty calories
Empty calories are unnecessary words. They provide no value to a sentence. For example: “On a daily basis” can be rewritten to say “Daily.” Even “that” and “very” often aren’t needed in a sentence. Editors can rewrite what you mean in fewer words.

Editors rid your writing of passive voice
Passive voice is when the subject receives the action of the verb. It is everywhere in our writing. For example: “We were invited by my parents to the baseball game” or “The ball was thrown by the pitcher.” Unlike the active voice, passive voice weakens a sentence and doesn’t provide clarity. These sentences flow better when you write, “My parents invited us to the baseball game” and “The pitcher threw the ball.”

Editors eliminate confusion
While a sentence may make sense to you as the writer, that doesn’t mean it will make sense to the reader. An editor can fix complicated writing simply by breaking up paragraphs into shorter ones or limiting sentences and paragraphs to one idea.

Editors catch what spell-check cannot
Did you write “flyer” when you meant “flier?” What about “berth” instead of “birth?” Words that sound the same but are spelled different and mean different things will trip up any writer. Editors come in with a fresh eye and catch these pesky words, and more.

Editors find simpler options for big words
To go along with the earlier bullet point on eliminating confusion, using big words in your writing doesn’t make you sound smarter. In fact, most readers will kindly put your article to the side if they have to wade through complex words or sentences. Any good editor will tell you to keep your writing simple. Instead of writing “facilitate,” use the word “help.” There are countless examples in your writing, and some are more complex than others for no good reason. Can you find them? Better make sure an editor takes a look!


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