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Expect, allow, and accept that every first draft will represent your lowest standard and have at it.

A first draft is just that, a draft with its lack of organization, lack of cogent thought, poor syntax, grammatical errors, typos and spelling slip-ups, and other inaccuracies.So it needs revision, rewriting, spell checking, and more research. Thus, it needs editing. How does one go about that?

Probably the first step is to use the word processor grammar and spellchecker. Then it is time to look at the organization of the piece: Is it logical? Does it proceed to a climax? Are all the sentences relevant to each paragraph? Is each paragraph relevant to the overall theme and topic? Are the facts accurate? Do the paragraphs lead to the conclusion you intended? What needs to be removed? What needs to be added?

Of course, the way it is edited depends on whether it is fiction or non-fiction, and then if it is fiction, what kind: novel, short story, poetry, etc. Each genre has its own characteristics, rules, and reason. Similarly, if it is non-fiction, what kind is it: informational, expository, descriptive, argumentative, or humorous.

Next comes sentence structure. Does it have a variety of sentences as to length and type: simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex? Do the sentences contain pet words and expressions? Do they contain colloquialism, slang, idioms, and trite language?

Is the language fitting to the subject matter? Formal, standard, informal, or common or avant-garde.

Finally, the work needs a re-read to be sure it is as perfect as it can be made, that it satisfies the writer?and especially the reader, the first one being the editor to whom it is sent.

If this sounds onerous, it is, but that's what writing is all about-to produce the best effort possible.

Charles O. Goulet has a BA in History and a BEd in English literature. He has written several historical novels that are available at,, Barnes and Noble, and many other bookstores.

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