Copyediting Video Tutorial #2

I had to break this sucker into two videos since YouTube limits videos to 15 minutes.

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Editor Interview #1: Katharine O'Moore-Klopf

Katharine O'Moore-Klopf

Katharine O'Moore-Klopf

Katharine O’Moore-Klopf, ELS, has been in publishing for 27 years, the first 11 as a production editor for various publishers, and since then as a full-time freelance copyeditor. She is a medical editor with a specialty in editing manuscripts written by non-native speakers of English. Her editing has helped researchers in more than 20 nations get published in more than 30 different medical journals. She is also creator and curator of the Copyeditors’ Knowledge Base, which is housed within her business web site. On Twitter, she is @KOKEdit. She blogs at EditorMom.

  1. What is it about editing that drew you to it?

    I’ve loved to read for as long as I can remember. Even at an early age, I spotted spelling errors and what I later learned were errors in syntax and grammar. As a child, I wondered whose job it was to fix those errors, but I didn’t actively seek information about it. When the whole family would ride from our small Texas town to the outskirts of Houston for twice-a-month trips to a big-box grocery store, I’d gaze at a plain building on the way that a small publishing company occupied. For years on those trips, I’d wonder each time what tasks the people in that building did each day as part of their jobs.

    Years later, I earned a journalism degree because no nearby universities that I was aware of offered degrees in publishing; this was in the late 1970s. My first professional job after graduation was as a newspaper journalist, covering the police and health-care beats. But the night hours interfered with having a new baby (my first), so I knew I’d have to find a daytime job. But what kind of work would pay me to write or edit? Oh, yeah–publishing! Eventually, I ended up working in-house as a production editor for a large publisher in Manhattan. What joy to read books, or manuscripts that would become books, every day! I was getting paid to read and to fix errors–or approve the fixes for errors found by freelance copyeditors and proofreaders! What a perfect world!

    Now that I’ve been self-employed for 16 years, I still occasionally look over my shoulder, expecting the fictitious job police to show up and arrest me for having too much fun at work. 🙂

  2. What character/personality trait, if any, do you believe is necessary to edit well?

    I think that four traits are absolutely necessary.

    The first two are a permanent love of details and a constant suspicion that what you’re reading may not be correct. Copyeditors are responsible for working on documents, manuscripts, and online copy to improve their organization, style, accuracy, grammar, syntax, punctuation, spelling, capitalization, usage, consistency, clarity, and coherence; to eliminate errors, repetition, wordiness, and incompleteness; and to point out possible libel, plagiarism, copyright infringement, and biased language. If we have to do all that, we had better love working on details and have an irrepressible urge to look up things, even things we think we know.

    The third and fourth traits or abilities are detachment and mind-reading. We must remember that the material we are editing is not our own; it belongs to the author. It’s important to be detached, or not emotionally invested in the copy that we edit, so that we don’t leave any hint of our personality on the piece but instead ensure that it all sounds uniformly like the author’s voice. It helps to develop the ability to read the author’s mind, so that when we must make changes, they are still in the author’s voice and are what the author would have written if he or she had done yet another draft.

  3. What’s the most common mistake you find when you edit?
    Oh, it’s always dangling participial phrases, and they can help conjure up unintentionally hilarious or even salacious images. Here is a modified example from the Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition, 5.112:

    Dangling participial phrase: Frequently used in early America, experts suggest that shaming is an effective punishment. (This sentence incorrectly suggests that experts were frequently used in early America.)
    Fixed: Experts suggest that shaming, frequently used in early America, is an effective punishment. (This sentence correctly says that shaming was frequently used.)
  4. What advice would you give aspiring editors or beginning writers?
    1. Read, read, read, read, read. And then read some more, every day of your life and possibly even every waking moment. This will teach you the difference between good and bad writing.
    2. Take writing courses.
    3. Take editing courses.
    4. Write something every day of your life, and get as much of it critiqued as you can. Whether you’re a writer or an editor, get comfortable with being edited, because everyone–even an editor–needs an editor.
    5. Never stop learning
    6. Copyeditors only: Find a mentor or a group of mentors, the latter of which can be in the form of fellow members of a profession-related association (see http://www.kokedit.com/library_CE5.shtml) or in subscribers to a well-run editing-related e-mail list, such as Copyediting-L (see http://www.copyediting-l.info).

  5. Would you share your favorite editing resources with us (books, web sites, conferences, etc.)?
    I have three favorite editing resources:
    1. AMA Manual of Style
    2. The Chicago Manual of Style
    3. The Copyediting-L e-mail list
    For all sorts of editing resources, categorized under 7 topics, I recommend the Copyeditors’ Knowledge Base:
  6. Anything else you’d like to add regarding editing?
    1. Don’t do it if you don’t love it. It’s okay to turn down editing subject matters that don’t appeal to you. If you don’t love editing it, you’ll be doing the copy, its readers, and the authors a disservice, because you won’t do your best work.
    2. Always, always respect the author.
Thank you, Katharine, for our first copyeditor interview. What an amazing resource this is. Everyone thank Katharine in the comments for giving us such a fantastic look into the world of editing.

Misery: The Never Before Seen Star Trek Copyediting Episode

You might be obsesses with copyediting if…


Copyediting Tutorial #2

How to use this page:

In the blockquote section below is a rough draft I hacked into shape. Corrections are in red. Suggested replacements are in blue.

Step 1: Study the edits and try to guess why I suggested the corrections. Doing so will prime your mind to think like an editor.

Step 2: Scroll down to the Notes section and read my rationale for the changes. Doing so will confirm how well you guessed in step 1.

Step 3: Share some of your passion (or downright hatred) for editing in the comments.

This tutorial is a full course meal designed for digesting in one sitting. We’ll create bite-sized blog posts containing one copyediting concept per post.That way, if studying copyediting in small chunks is more your style, these full tutorials won’t overwhelm you.

Enjoy copyediting tutorial #2.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could ask your readers what they really(truly) think of you?

Not the things(what) they write in your comments section or the words which(that) stream into your inbox, but the things(what) they are too polite to give voice to. The things(That) which they might put in a Dear John letter if they were breaking up with you.

Knowing how your audience reacts to your work, knowing what touches them, what gets under their skin, what turns them off—all of these things are invaluable information that can make(make) you a better writer. In fact, one(One) of the best aspects of blogging, compared to most writing ventures, is the immediate feedback that lets you settle into the head of your audience. This valuable insight makes you a better writer, and grows your blog or business.

But, if you’re only paying attention to what your readers are saying(say), you’re likely missing the (most meaningful) messages which mean the most.

Tuning in and learning what they really(truly) think of you can help you(will) bring(advance) your writing to the next level. And, perhaps keep them from writing you off.

Here’s 10 things your audience won’t tell you:

1. “I’m losing interest.” Comments or analytics may not reflect waning interest, at least not in the first creep of its cancerous spread. But, you must always be aware of it. A failure(Failing) to connect is an encouragement of(encourages) indifference. Sure, that reader may still leave a comment here and there, and might even return the following week, but the goodwill you’ve banked is by no means bottomless, and it’s only a matter of time before your account overdraws. Beware those borderline posts that cost you popularity, loyalty or trust. And, never settle for mediocrity. Not every post requires brilliance (is brilliant), but if it’s not even(your post is nowhere) close, you shouldn’t press publish.

2. “I don’t get it.” A confused audience is often bewildered in silence. Sure, you’ll have a few outspoken regulars, bold enough for a “What you talking about Willis?” or two, but most students don’t raise their hands when they don’t understand. Never alienate readers with ambiguity. Being clear and concise doesn’t mean dumbing things down; it means conveying a clear understanding of your subject, coupled with an obvious respect for your reader(s).

3. “You’re not meeting my needs.” As a writer, (you’re responsible for) identifying and understanding audience needs is your responsibility. If you wish to cultivate a loyal following, you must offer consistent value. Do you provide unique information on a topic your readers value? Do you make them feel good about themselves, their relationships, or their circumstances? Do you speak the words they’re too timid to say out loud? Do you provide an adequate escape from reality for a period of time by weaving a web of fantasy, fiction, or emotionally charged storytelling? What needs are you meeting for your most loyal readers? If you can’t answer that basic question, please pause before publishing your next post.

4. “Your community is not a safe place for me to share my thoughts.” The comments section on a blog can take on a life of its own, and often does. While you can’t control who comments or what people(they) say, it’s your backyard and you set the example. If one or more of your readers is creating an environment leaving people feeling in danger of ridicule (and perceived danger), the community will deflate, as those who are(feel) threatened evaporate before hearing what you have to say next.

5. “I really want you to like me.” While most readers won’t come right out and say it (and those that do might require a restraining order), your readers want you, as the writer, to like them. They want to feel accepted, appreciated and acknowledged. Use available opportunities to connect with your readers on an individual basis. This will help to increase your reader base while deepening their level of loyalty.

6. “I want to be significant.” Nothing’s more alienating to an audience than feeling they don’t matter. As a writer, your readers are reliable indicators of your success. If your writing makes your readers feel insignificant, you will miss the magic dusting(sprinkling) the development of a loyal audience.

7. “I can relate to what you’re saying.” You can’t expect your readers to come right out and tell you every time you’ve made a connection(connected). But, when they do, they grant certainty of significant impact. Pour your humanity into your posts and you will relate to your audience on a deeper level. This effort will add up and expand your audience, with every new connection developing a lasting bond with your readers.

8. “I have expectations when I read your writing.” Bloggers beware! Readers visit sites with certain expectations. These vary from blog to blog, but overall, readers desire condensed knowledge, delivered in an easy-to-read and familiar format. Your readers will also come to expect a certain level of quality, a particular style of writing, and an overall character that is unique to your blog. If you want to know more about your readers’ expectations, and you probably should, set up a survey or ask pointed questions to a sampling of readers.

9. “I like to laugh.” A little levity, even for serious discussions, can make(makes) good content great and great content easier to spread. If your blog becomes the harbinger of doom and gloom, you’ll surely lose some readers. Serious discussions are great, but be sure to balance heavy with humor. While you’re laughing, make sure you’re able to laugh at yourself. Self-deprecating humor is the safest kind and can help(helps) establish yourself as a well-balanced person who doesn’t take themselves too seriously.

10.“I don’t care about how much you know until I know how much you care.” If your audience can’t see that you care(thinks you’re indifferent) , then your words, even if read, are reduced(reduce) to their lowest common denominator. If you write with the goal of reaching people, changing lives, or giving advice, then you must show your readers how much you care before your words will take root. Never calculate care, but (if you) allow the concern for your audience to creep through the cracks of your sentences and(,) you will nurture a contagious, long-lasting bond.

In real life, readers don’t usually send Dear John letters to bloggers. So, chances are, you’ll never know why they left until one day they’re suddenly not showing up any longer(gone). Learn to listen and care about your audience now and you’ll continue to thrive in a happy relationship for years to come.

NOTES:

  1. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could ask your readers what they really(truly) think of you? – I really hate really. It’s a flabby modifier. I either don’t use it or replace it with truly.
  2. Not the things(what) they write in your comments section or the words which(that) stream into your inbox, but the things(what) they are too polite to give voice to. The things(That) which they might put in a Dear John letter if they were breaking up with you. – I deleted the things because the things is ambiguous. I used the pronoun what twice to shave two words and keep the rhythmic repetition the author achieved with the things. I changed which to that. I won’t explain why this was the proper switch, because people forget this rule more often than anything else. Just bookmark a great reference guide and use it when uncertain. Mainly, words that is easier on the tongue than words which. Try saying that five times and you’ll hear what I mean. Give voice to is a flabby expression. I deleted give and to. A savings of two words. I couldn’t resist using a more formal that which combination opening in the next sentence.
  3. all of these things are invaluable information that can make(make) you a better writer. – Of these things is a flabby expression. All is all the author needed here. Blogger Authority Alert. Used make instead of can make. If you believe something is true, don’t use can or may or might; just say it and believe it. Shaved 4 words total.
  4. In fact, one(One) of the best aspects of blogging…In fact is a flabby expression. You don’t need it.
  5. But, if you’re only paying attention to what your readers are saying(say), you’re likely missing the (most meaningful) messages which mean the most. – Used the simple form of the verb construction is saying. Shaved a word. When you have a noun followed by the word which that further describes the noun, look for ways to turn these phrases into adjectives. Here I used most meaningful, thus shaving two words and creating a nice triple-m alliteration.
  6. Tuning in and learning what they really(truly) think of you can help you(will) bring(advance) your writing to the next level. – Again, I don’t like really. I changed can help you bring to will advance to increase the authority of the statement, used stronger verb (advance instead of bring), and shaved two words.
  7. Here’s 10 things your audience won’t tell you: – I’m not a fan of the phrases here is, there is, there are, there were. Where is here? Should the word here have an underline linking to the 10? Above here or below here? Start your list sentences with whatever noun here is refers to. I could have changed things to secrets, but I chose not to.
  8. A failure(Failing) to connect is an encouragement of(encourages) indifference.Nominalization Alert. Nominalization occurs when you take  perfectly good verbs (or adjectives), in this case fail and encourage, and use the noun forms, in this case, failure and encouragement. Try to avoid this construction. I shaved four words as a result.
  9. Not every post requires brilliance (is brilliant), but if it’s not even(your post is nowhere) close, you shouldn’t press publish. – Another example of nominalization. In this case, the author took a perfectly good adjective (brilliant) and used the noun form (brilliance). Ambiguous Antecedent Alert. What noun does the pronoun it refer to in it’s not even close, how close brilliance is, or how close your post is to brilliance? Be more specific whenever possible.
  10. Being clear and concise doesn’t mean dumbing things down; it means conveying a clear understanding of your subject, coupled with an obvious respect for your reader(s). – I made reader plural because I’m certain people reading the post will have more than one reader.
  11. As a writer, (you’re responsible for) identifying and understanding audience needs is your responsibility. – Fixed nominalization of responsibility. Allowed nominalization of audience needs so I didn’t have to increase word count by adding what your before audience needs. Moved the  phrase you’re responsible for to the beginning since he began it by focusing on you the writer. If I didn’t change it, the focus would have been on you the writer, followed by the audience, followed by your responsibility to that audience. Too much focus jumping.
  12. Do you provide an adequate escape from reality for a period of time by weaving a web of fantasy, fiction, or emotionally charged storytelling? – Ambiguous, flabby phrase that adds little to the sentence meaning.
  13. While you can’t control who comments or what people(they) say, it’s your backyard and you set the example. – The author focuses on commenters, so I thought the sentence should continue with what those commenters (they) have to say, rather than what people in general say. If I left it alone, it’s as if the author is talking about two separate groups with two separate actions.
  14. If one or more of your readers is creating an environment leaving people feeling in danger of ridicule (and perceived danger), the community will deflate, as those who are(feel) threatened evaporate before hearing what you have to say next.Leaving people feeling in danger is flabby, hard to say, and reads as if it’s the second item in a list of actions by your readers. I read it as your readers are creating and leaving. Changed are threatened to feel threatened to match the earlier phrase feeling in danger.
  15. “I really want you to like me.” While most readers won’t come right out and say it… — I didn’t touch really inside this quote, because it’s a quote and people talk differently than they write. Right is an unnecessary word.
  16. This will help to increase your reader base while deepening their level of loyalty.Help to is a flabby phrase that adds little meaning to the sentence. I could have replaced the first word of this sentence, This, to something more concrete like doing so to refer to use available opportunities in the previous sentence, but I missed it.
  17. If your writing makes your readers feel insignificant, you will miss the magic dusting(sprinkling) the development of a loyal audience. – I’m not happy with this change I suggested. I should have put sprinkling atop so that people don’t read magic sprinkling as a combination noun. Besides that, I ruined his d alliteration in dusting the development. I should have used magic dusting atop the development of a loyal audience.
  18. You can’t expect your readers to come right out and tell you every time you’ve made a connection(connected).Come right out and is flabby and unnecessary. Shaved four words. Not only is made a connection flabby, it’s nominalization too. I changed it to the stronger verb form, thus shaving two more words.
  19. This effort will add up and expand your audience – Flabby, unnecessary, redundant phrase.
  20. Your readers will also come to expect a certain level of quality, a particular style of writing, and an overall character that is unique to your blog. – Unnecessary phrase. Sentence meaning doesn’t change without the phrase.
  21. If you want to know more about your readers’ expectations, and you probably should, – Authority Alert. You’re the blogger giving someone information. Believe it yourself, or your readers probably won’t.
  22. A little levity, even for serious discussions, can make(makes) good content great and great content easier to spread. – Authority Alert. Refer to note #21.
  23. If your blog becomes the harbinger of doom and gloom, you’ll surely lose some readers.Some is ambiguous. The word also robs the sentence of authority. Read the before and after versions and you’ll hear what I mean.
  24. Self-deprecating humor is the safest kind and can help(helps) establish yourself as a well-balanced person who doesn’t take themselves too seriously. – Authority Alert. The word can sounds too much like might to me.
  25. If your audience can’t see that you care(thinks you’re indifferent), then your words, even if read, are reduced(reduce) to their lowest common denominator. – Not a big fan of the word can’t. People don’t want to know what can’t be done, only what can, and they don’t want to know what something isn’t but what it is. Ex. That isn’t good. Just write That sucks. Besides that, I changed can’t see that you care to thinks you’re indifferent because it reads easier and uses less words. I deleted then because it’s a weak linking term. Are reduced is passive voice, bringing focus to the person doing the reducing instead of to your words.
  26. If you write with the goal of reaching people, changing lives, or giving advice, then you must…Then is a weak linking term. Delete whenever possible.
  27. Never calculate care, but (if you) allow the concern for your audience to creep through the cracks of your sentences and(,) you will nurture a contagious, long-lasting bond. – I added if you because the sentence reads like never calculate, but allow for concern. Allow for concern is only part of a larger conditional statement and needs and if conjunction. As a result, I deleted and and inserted a comma for the sentence to make sense.
  28. In real life, readers don’t usually send Dear John letters to bloggers. – Authority Alert. Usually takes the punch out of this sentence.
  29. So, chances are, you’ll never know why they left until one day they’re suddenly not showing up any longer(gone). – Flabby phrase. Six words down to one. A savings of five words.

That’s it for Copyediting Tutorial #2. I know you learned something (Authority), and had some fun, too. Tell us how much in the comments.


Copyediting Video Tutorial #1

I created a video deconstruction of Copyediting Tutorial #1 for you visual learners out there. Enjoy it (yes editing is more fun than sex, well, maybe not, but still) and let me know how godly, or god-awful, I was in the comments.


Copyediting Tutorial #1

Q: How can I write better?

A: Study the copyedits of an editor.

How to use this page:

In the blockquote section below is a rough draft I hacked into shape. Corrections are in red. Suggested replacements are in blue.

Step 1: Study the edits and try to guess why I suggested the corrections. Doing so will prime your mind to think like an editor.

Step 2: Scroll down to the Notes section and read my rationale for the changes. Doing so will confirm how well you guessed in step 1.

Step 3: Share some of your passion (or downright hatred) for editing in the comments.

This tutorial is a full course meal designed for digesting in one sitting. We’ll create bite-sized blog posts containing one copyediting concept per post.That way, if studying copyediting in small chunks is more your style, these full tutorials won’t overwhelm you.

Enjoy copyediting tutorial #1.

Your Blog is Boring. These 7 Things Will Fix It! (Fix It In 7 Simple Steps)

I bet your blog is boring.

Nothing personal, just math. Seventy million blogs litter the digital landscape with mediocrity and repetition.

Separating the good from the bad isn’t too difficult, but weaving through the weeds of hum-drum, me-too, been there done that is wearisome.

Among the worst are b(B)logs coming close to awesomeness, yet fading into echo almost by accident (are among the worst). You see it within seconds of landing on the pageit looks like just another(your average) blog, yet effort pops from the pixels.

Sound familiar?

If this is you, then good news, you’re almost there(If we just described your blog, cheer up. You’ve almost defeated boring.)You’ve read a metric ton of blogging tips and have gone a long way to sharpen(succeeded in sharpening) your voice. Now it’s(It’s) time to ask what else you can do(do what it takes) to stand apart. Because doing nothing leaves you a click away from irrelevance.

7 Ways to Be Differentand Most of Them Are Free!
1) Have a logo or header grab reader attention the instant they click on the page(arrive).
A custom header is best, something(a beacon) to let the reader know from the first second (shouting how unique) you and your blog are both unique. A stock, out-of-the-box header won’t cut it. A custom header reinforces the branding you’ve built, and leads your visitor(s) toward whatever action you’d like them taking(your desired action).

2) Crush it from the first sentence forward. Your opening sentence is a pie in the windowsill, inviting the reader to come inside and(to) make themselves at home. Your first sentence either introduces you to a reader for the first time or continues a conversation. Either way, use it to make your reader smile, think, or wonder. Manage this in the first few seconds and you will place yourself far ahead of (you’ll crush) the competition.

3) Say Something. No, not the same-old stuff that everyone else is saying(says). We’re all unique,(comma splice)(;) we have different points of view. So why do so many blogs sound like they could be written by anyone(anyone could write them)? Most bloggers fear saying the wrong thing, so they just parrot what everyone else is saying(says). But take a look at (study)the must-read blogs. They are written by people who aren’t afraid to give their opinions, haters be damned(Unafraid people with passionate opinions and haters-be-damned attitudes wrote them). We’re not saying to(This doesn’t mean) be provocative for provocative’s sakethat gets(that’s) boring. But when you have something to say which truly adds (valuable to add) to the subject, don’t just say it, shout it from the rooftops!

4) Pay attention to your theme. If you’re serious about your site, build it with a premium theme. Most premium themes cost under $100, are easily customized(customize easily), and help you stand apart from a sea of sameness. Even small tweaks such as color changes or sidebar additions will help your site look professional. Most premium themes allow you to do(offer) this out of the box, without having to know tons of code(requiring coding know-how). Even if you’re not a(in) business and have nothing to sell(sell nothing), a professional look lets people know you’re serious. That alone is enough to set you apart.

5) Layout is important. Too many blogs fade into the background because their layout suffers from a vacuum of imagination. If your site sports nothing but a traditional body of copy and a right sidebar filled with AdSense links or 125 x 125 square ads, your blog is not unique. Your blog is your canvas, the layout the picture you paint for readers. Images, sidebar placement, calls to action and typographyall blend into your(the) reader experience. The more(closer to) unique that experience (gets), the less boring your blog will be(becomes). The less boring your blog, the more likely the average reader is to(will) subscribe or(and) share it with others.

6) An obvious call to action. It’s all too easy to forget this, or do it entirely wrong. Most blogs have either(either have) no call to action, or beat you over the head with it(one). What do you want from your readers? What is the most important thing they should do (action they should take) after arriving at your website? Do you want them to follow you on Twitter? Subscribe to your RSS or email feeds? Click for a free e-book or item? Friend you on Facebook? That is your call to action. Make your call to action easy to find and easier to fulfill. Some bloggers shoot for the moon right off the bat, using complicated forms asking for email, real names, addresses, and everything but their height and weight. Make your call to action so simple and enticing that it invites(entices) clicks.

7) Let your readers see the real you. Not the you which you trot out for the most formal of events, but the you that picks their nose(nose picks) every once in a while (not that I’ve ever picked my nose, (not) even once in my entire life). Too many blogs preach from the pulpit. It’s always better to let(letting) the real you come out and mingle with the masses. It’s far easier to build(building) a community when you are genuinely a part of it.

Most blogs are boring because the bloggers behind them (their bloggers) are bored or aren’t tapping their potential. Find your voice, be yourself, and let your blog reflect the real you(add period) and you’ll have people eagerly seeking out (Do so and people will eagerly seek) your posts rather than (instead of) approaching them with a yawn.

NOTES:

  1. These 7 Things Will Fix It (Fix It In 7 Simple Steps) – Start your sentences with verbs or nouns whenever possible. Avoid ambiguous terms like Things whenever possible. Add some alliteration (7 Simple Steps) whenever possible.
  2. Among the worst are b(B)logs coming close to awesomeness, yet fading into echo almost by accident (are among the worst) – This sentence starts with a preposition, an article (whatever the hell that is, huh), an adjective, and the weak verb are. Refer to note #1 about starting with nouns and verbs.
  3. it looks like just another(your average) blog – Some phrases are hard to read. Looks like just another is an example. Say it five times and you’ll hear what I mean. Replace words that trip your tongue if possible.
  4. If this is you, then good news, you’re almost there(If we just described your blog, cheer up. You’ve almost defeated boring.) – Some words have assumed meaning relative to previous statements. Try to be more specific in these instances. This, you, and there are three examples in the sentence above. I know this means the state of having a boring blog. I know you refers to the blog and not the person. I know there means the blogger is close to fixing a boring blog. So, why not just say so? (Note: The author often uses words in unique ways. I used boring as a noun to match his style.)
  5. You’ve read a metric ton of blogging tips and have gone a long way to sharpen(succeeded in sharpening) your voice. – Beware of flabby words and phrases. The phrase have gone a long way to is flabby, so I replaced it with succeeded in, and used the ing form of sharpen. Six words down to two, a savings of four words. In a reader’s busy world, brevity matters.
  6. Now it’s(It’s) time to ask what else you can do(do what it takes) to stand apart. – Beware of unnecessary, implied words. It’s time already implies that now would be a good time. Lead with the most important verbs if possible. In this case, do moves to the front.
  7. 7 Ways to Be Different—And Most Of Them Are Free! – More unnecessary, implied words. Most Are Free says the same thing without adding Of Them.
  8. Have a logo or header grab reader attention the instant they click on the page(arrive). – Removed the flab. Four words down to one. A savings of three words.
  9. A custom header is best, something(a beacon) to let the reader know from the first second (shouting how unique) you and your blog are both unique.Beacon replaces the ambiguous word something. Shouting replaces the weaker let the reader know verb construction. Removed the flab. Twenty two words down to 14. A savings of eight words.
  10. A custom header reinforces the branding you’ve built, and leads your visitor(s) toward whatever action you’d like them taking(your desired action). – Added an s to visitor so it doesn’t read as though the author thinks his reader only has one visitor. Removed the flab. Six words down to three. (NOTE: I should have changed “reader” in the previous sentences  to “readers.” I missed that. Thanks for your comment, John.)
  11. Your opening sentence is a pie in the windowsill, inviting the reader to come inside and(to) make themselves at home. – More unnecessary, implied words. Invite the reader inside and it’s assumed they will come inside. Had to replace and with to so the sentence would make sense.
  12. Your first sentence either introduces you to a reader for the first time or continues a conversation. – Redundant phrase. Introduce means for the first time.
  13. Either way, use it to make your reader smile, think, or wonder. – Remove unnecessary words that hide your power verbs, in this case make.
  14. Manage this in the first few seconds and you will place yourself far ahead of (you’ll crush) the competition. – Replaced a flabby verb construction with the more powerful verb crush. Removed the flab. Seven words  down to two. A savings of five words.
  15. No, not the same-old stuff that everyone else is saying(says). – Remove the word that whenever possible, as long as it doesn’t alter the meaning of the sentence. I replaced the present progressive tense verb is saying with the present simple tense verb says, mainly to shave one word, not so much that I believed everyone says the same old stuff more than just at present, which is saying indicates. Research verb tenses if you truly wish to master such arcane distinctions.
  16. We’re all unique,(comma splice)(;) we have different points of view. – If you have two independent clauses not connected by a conjunction, you need a semicolon or a period.
  17. So why do so many blogs sound like they could be written by anyone(anyone could write them)? – Passive voice alert. Put the subject of the action first.
  18. Most bloggers fear saying the wrong thing, so they just parrot what everyone else is saying(says) – Refer to note #15 about verb tenses. I mainly used says to shave a word for brevity’s sake.
  19. But take a look at (study)the must-read blogs. – Removed the flab. Four words become one. A savings of three words.
  20. They are written by people who aren’t afraid to give their opinions, haters be damned(Unafraid people with passionate opinions and haters-be-damned attitudes wrote them). – Passive voice alert. Put the subject of the action first. Removed the flab. People who aren’t afraid to give their opinions became unafraid people with passionate opinions. Eight words became five. A savings of three words.
  21. We’re not saying to(This doesn’t mean) be provocative for provocative’s sakethat gets(that’s) boring. – Not necessarily cutting flab here, just tightening it a bit.
  22. But when you have something to say which truly adds (valuable to add) to the subject, don’t just say it, shout it from the rooftops! – Removed the flab. Five words became three. A savings of two words. To say is implied with something valuable to add. We assume when you add to a conversation, you will say it.
  23. Most premium themes cost under $100, are easily customized(customize easily), and help you stand apart from a sea of sameness. – Passive voice alert. Problem with verb-subject focus, too. Changed so all three verbs refer to the theme and not the person customizing it. So premium themes cost, customize, and help.
  24. Most premium themes allow you to do(offer) this out of the box, without having to know tons of code(requiring coding know-how). – Used more powerful verbs. Removed the flab. Ten words became four. A savings of six words.
  25. Even if you’re not a(in) business and have nothing to sell(sell nothing), – Technically a person is not a business, they are in business. Moved my power verb sell to the front.
  26. Images, sidebar placement, calls to action and typographyall blend into your(the) reader experience. – The author is trying to help the readers of the person reading this advice, so it’s more accurate to say the reader experience.
  27. The more(closer to) unique that experience (gets), the less boring your blog will be(becomes). – If something is unique, it can’t be more unique or less unique. Added gets so the new sentence would make sense. Used becomes to shave a word.
  28. The less boring your blog, the more likely the average reader is to(will) subscribe or(and) share it with others. – Used will to shave a word. Used and instead of or because I thought subscribing and sharing should be a group and not an either/or choice.
  29. An obvious call to action. It’s all too easy to forget this, or do it entirely wrong . – Deleted the word this to shave a word. Deleted it entirely, because if it’s wrong, it’s entirely not right. (NOTE: I should have use “incorrectly” instead of “do wrong”, since do wrong means to cause harm. Thanks again to John in the comments.)
  30. Most blogs have either(either have) no call to action, or beat you over the head with it(one). – Some people use have either, but placing either after the verb have, and placing or before the verb beat makes for a clunky read. I’d rather have conjunction-verb-conjunction-verb than verb-conjunction-conjunction-verb. Changed it to one because the author is talking about blogs, plural, and it is singular. One is an all-encompassing term.
  31. What is the most important thing they should do (action they should take) after arriving at your website? – Use specific, more powerful verbs. At your site is unnesessary and already implied by the word arriving.
  32. Make your call to action so simple and enticing that it invites(entices) clicks. — Repetition is a useful rhythmic tool.
  33. Not the you which you trot out for the most formal of events, but the you that picks their nose(nose picks) every once in a while (not that I’ve ever picked my nose, (not) even once in my entire life) – Used nose picks to shave a word. I delete the word every every chance I get. Deleted in my entire life, because not even once implies the author’s entire life. ERROR – Instead of Not the you which, I should have put Not the you who, and instead of but the you that, I should have put but the you who. Use who when dealing with people. Which and that refer to things or groups.
  34. It’s always better to let(letting) the real you come out and mingle with the masses. It’s far easier to build(building) a community when you are genuinely a part of it. — Used the ing form of these two verbs to shave two words. The word a in genuinely a part of it is unnesessary, so I shaved another word.
  35. Most blogs are boring because the bloggers behind them (their bloggers) are bored or aren’t tapping their potential. – Removed the flab. Four words became two. A savings of two words.
  36. Find your voice, be yourself, and let your blog reflect the real you(add period) and you’ll have people eagerly seeking out (Do so and people will eagerly seek) your posts rather than (instead of) approaching them with a yawn. – Added a period to break this long sentence apart. Used seek instead of seeking out to shave a word. Used instead of in place of rather than. Say both phrases five times, and you’ll hear how instead of is easier on the tongue.

That’s it for Copyediting Tutorial #1. Good thing, too, because my brain aches after this much knowledge transfer. Comment below so I know whether or not to continue torturing myself. 😉