Copyediting Tutorial #3

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 #3.

There are a lot(Lots) of people giving out(offer) really bad(horrible) advice on how to use Twitter(Twitter advice). You can follow their suggestions and get(land) 30,000 followers that have also read(busily reading their) Twitter for Clueless Twits (book), but what you won’t get is an audience that cares about what you say and (a caring audience that listens to your every word, and you’ll miss) real networking opportunities (too).

Here are five things not to do on Twitter if you want it to be a valuable tool for building your network and reputation. (Twitter is a valuable network and reputation-building tool, but only if you avoid five common mistakes:)

1. Mass follow people, and unfollow the ones(those) that don’t follow back. This is a way to build up (Doing these builds) an impressive list of followers, but how many of them are interested in what you have to say, and how many of them are just following(only follow) back to build up(increase) their own numbers?

Follow people that you have a genuine interest in(you genuinely find interesting,) and focus your attention on being the kind of(a) remarkable person who shares things of value that others want to follow(valuable, follow-worthy content). A few hundred engaged followers is(are) worth a lot more than 50,000 who tune you out.

2. Use search to give others the hard sell. Twitter search is a very useful(powerful) tool for finding those that might benefit from your services or products, but you must proceed with caution. I’d go so far as to say that you never want to try to directly sell to any one individual on Twitter without them having(unless they’ve) given crystal clear signs that they are open to your message.

Think about it this way,(.) imagine you’re(You’re) at a cocktail party having a conversation(conversing) with a group about wanting to sell your house and wanting to know the first steps(what first steps you should take to sell your house). From across the room a real estate agent jumps into your conversation. Would you rather she:

Answer your question in a factual way and hand you(offer) her card with an invitation to get into touch if you have further questions(and invite you to discuss additional questions later)?

Or,

Telling(Tell) you that she can solve all your problems, but you need to sign with her right now(then) as she whips out her appointment book and insists on booking a visit to your home right away (and won’t take, “Let me think about it,” or, “Let me talk to my spouse,” as a signal to back off)?

If you use search to find people with problems you could solve, do just that and let them look up(browse) your information on your profile(profile information) if they want to learn more.

3. If using search for the hard sell is bad, sending (random) @ sales messages at random is suicide. There is no quicker way to get blocked than by sending @ messages to people out of the blue to try and sell them something. (Nothing excites people into blocking you quicker than sending out-of-the-blue @ sales messages.) Get blocked enough times and Twitter will shut down (suspend) your account. You’ve nothing to gain by doing it(so) (since by-and-large nobody will click on your links, let alone buy) and everything to lose.

4. Argue with strangers over pointless stuff. A bit of lively debate is a ton of fun and it’s almost an ethical duty to call out those who are attacking(attack) you and your friends.

For example, I once tweeted a link to a no spend week challenge I was running. A local coffee shop owner took offense at that and sent me an angry message that what I was doing was going to (stating I would) ruin small business. It could have been an interesting discussion had she or he(the owner) not immediately gone into attack mode and taken something that was clearly not personal( a nonpersonal tweet) as an affront.

The thing is, I’d been meaning to check out that shop (the) next time I was in(visited) that area of town , because I’d seen them on Twitter. But after being scolded in public(the owner scolded me in public) for such a stupid non-reason, you can bet I’ve never set foot in there.

5. Forget that(the saying,) yYou get what you give. You don’t have to follow everyone back who follows you on Twitter. You don’t have to respond to every @ message, or reciprocate every retweet or follow recommendation. But you do have to provide value to make an impact(impact people) on Twitter. That could mean that you’re(Be) entertaining, helpful, or informative, so long as you provide something that others want(value to others). In short, there has to be a reason for people (people need a reason) to follow you.

The value doesn’t necessarily have to consist of making(stem from sending) great tweets. Some popular Twitter accounts are simply automated links to new blog posts, but the thing is they are posts that people are eager to see (them), and not some boring blog that’s just a tepid rehash(with tepid rehashes) of what everyone else is saying(says).

Find what style of tweets works for you.

Some people can tweet about what they had for breakfast and make other people care. You don’t have to appeal to everybody to make Twitter work for you, but you do have to(must) deliver something that’s of value(value) to your target audience.

What are some ways that people have(ways have people) turned you off on Twitter? What would your one piece of advice be to those just starting out (Twitter rookies)?

NOTES:

  1. There are a lot(Lots) of people giving out(offer) really bad(horrible)advice on how to use Twitter(Twitter advice). – Don’t start sentences with flabby phrases like there is, there are, there were. Start with whatever these phrases refer to. Normally, I’d like to see a more precise phrase than lots, but I was satisfied enough with cutting three flabby words. Giving out is a flabby phrase, so I replaced it with offer. Intensified Adjective Alert: bad is an adjective. Really intensifies this adjective. When you see this construction, look for a stronger adjective to replace both. In this case I used horrible. Advice on how to use Twitter is a flabby phrase. We assume Twitter advice will show us how to use twitter so on how to use is unnecessary. We’re left with advice and Twitter which I switched into Twitter advice. Be mindful of this opportunity which I call Combining Nouns Opportunity (because I’m terrible at remembering the official names of techniques I intuitively use). We shaved nine words from this sentence.
  2. You can follow their suggestions and get(land) 30,000 followers that have also read(busily reading their) Twitter for Clueless Twits (book), but what you won’t get is an audience that cares about what you say and (a caring audience that listens to your every word, and you’ll miss) real networking opportunities (too).Get is a flabby verb. I replaced it with land, a stronger and more hip verb. The term that have also read is flabby and we have to wait for the last word to find out what the 30,000 followers are doing, so I immediately say these followers are busily reading. I erased what since the previous sentence starts with you, and I wanted the sentence after the conjunction but to start with you too. An audience that cares is another flabby expression. Whenever you see a noun followed by that and a verb, try to turn the verb into an adjective describing the noun. In this case, I changed it to a caring audience. I used a comma and added the phrase and you miss because the authors sentence reads as if the audience won’t care about what you have to say, and they won’t care about real networking opportunities either. The author clearly didn’t mean to do this so I fixed the ambiguity.
  3. Here are five things not to do on Twitter if you want it to be a valuable tool for building your network and reputation. (Twitter is a valuable network and reputation-building tool, but only if you avoid five common mistakes:) – I removed the flabby phrase here are, and replaced the ambiguous things with mistakes. I simplified how the author defined Twitter as a valuable tool. I shaved a total of 7 words from the sentence.
  4. Mass follow people, and unfollow the ones(those) that don’t follow back. This is a way to build up (Doing these builds) an impressive list of followers, but how many of them are interested in what you have to say, and how many of them are just following(only follow) back to build up(increase) their own numbers? – I changed the ones to those to shave a word. I changed this is a way to build up to doing so builds to shave three more words. Build up is also a flabby expression. Drop the up. I deleted of them because it’s redundant; how many is all you need to refer back to followers. I used the phrase only follow to shave another word. Build up is a flabby expression. Drop the up, and in this case, I chose a verb I thought was more powerful.
  5. Follow people that you have a genuine interest in(you genuinely find interesting,) and focus your attention on being the kind of(a) remarkable person who shares things of value that others want to follow(valuable, follow-worthy content). – I reworked the phrase that you have a genuine interest in because it’s clunky due to interest being used as a noun instead of an adjective. Nominalization like this brings along dead weight. I shaved three words with the fix. The phrase the kind of is flabby and unnecessary. The phrase things of value that others want to follow is flabby. Things is ambiguous, so I changed it to content and gave it two strong adjectives. I shaved two more words by doing so.
  6. Use search to give others the hard sell. Twitter search is a very useful(powerful) tool for finding those that might benefit from your services or products, but you must proceed with caution. – The term very useful is anything but. Avoid very whenever possible. This is another Intensified Adjective Alert. I used powerful as a more powerful replacement for useful.
  7. I’d go so far as to say that you never want to try to directly sell to any one individual on Twitter without them having(unless they’ve) given crystal clear signs that they are open to your message. – I removed two instances of the word that, because we rarely need it, and removing it doesn’t destroy the meaning of the sentence or confuse the reader. Be careful to read your sentences after you remove the word that, though. On rare occasions, the sentence meaning does become unclear. I removed the unnecessary, flabby expression try to. If I left it in, we’d have want to, try to, sell to in once sentence. I changed the expression without them having given because it’s clunky, and saying having given is tough on the tongue.
  8. Think about it this way,(.) imagine you’re(You’re) at a cocktail party having a conversation(conversing) with a group about wanting to sell your house and wanting to know the first steps(what first steps you should take to sell your house). – The author strung two sentences together with a comma. This is a comma splice, so I used a period and split the sentences. I removed the phrase imagine you’re because I had faith in the audience imagining the scenario without the author telling them to do so. The phrase having a conversation is a Nominalization Alert, because conversation is a weaker version of conversing, and this nominalization brought with it the two unnecessary words having and a. I removed the two instances of the phrase wanting to, because it’s assumed if a person talks about steps to sell a home, they want to sell.
  9. Answer your question in a factual way and hand you(offer) her card with an invitation to get into touch if you have further questions(and invite you to discuss additional questions later)? – I replaced hand you with offer to save a word. The word invitation is a Nominalization Alert. I replaced it with it’s stronger verb form invite. I replaced the flabby expression to get into touch with to discuss to shave two words.
  10. Telling(Tell) you that she can solve all your problems, but you need to sign with her right now(then) as she whips out her appointment book and insists on booking a visit to your home right away (and won’t take, “Let me think about it,” or, “Let me talk to my spouse,” as a signal to back off)? – The word telling is faulty, because we introduced a scenario prior that began,  Would you rather she. If we use telling, the ing form of tell, the sentence would read, Would you rather she telling you. I removed that because it’s flabby. I changed now to then, because I thought it was a more accurate representation of whenever this scenario would occur.
  11. If you use search to find people with problems you could solve, do just that and let them look up(browse) your information on your profile(profile information) if they want to learn more. – I removed just because I thought it was unnecessary. I changed the flabby expression look up to browse to shave a word. Combining Nouns Opportunity: I changed information on your profile to profile information. Look for instances when you can combine nouns in this fashion and cut the flab.
  12. If using search for the hard sell is bad, sending (random) @ sales messages at random is suicide. – The phrase at random is flabby. I attached this to the noun it refers to.
  13. There is no quicker way to get blocked than by sending @ messages to people out of the blue to try and sell them something. (Nothing excites people into blocking you quicker than sending out-of-the-blue @ sales messages.) –This sentence required a total rework. Don’t start sentences with there is, there are, there were. I shaved nine words from this sentence.
  14. Get blocked enough times and Twitter will shut down (suspend) your account. – I erased times because it’s redundant after blocked enough. Shut down is a flabby phrase. I replaced it with suspend.
  15. You’ve nothing to gain by doing it(so) (since by-and-large nobody will click on your links, let alone buy) and everything to lose. – I made a stylistic change by replacing it with so. It flows better off the tongue for me. I removed the phrase by and large because it’s unnecessary and flabby.
  16. A bit of lively debate is a ton of fun and it’s almost an ethical duty to call out those who are attacking(attack) you and your friends. – I changed are attaching to attack because it’s one less word and it sounds stronger.
  17. For example, I once tweeted a link to a no spend week challenge I was running. – I deleted for example. I didn’t think it was necessary.
  18. A local coffee shop owner took offense at that and sent me an angry message that what I was doing was going to (stating I would) ruin small business. – The phrase at that is unnecessary. I trimmed down the phrase that what I was doing was going to and shaved five words.
  19. It could have been an interesting discussion had she or he(the owner) not immediately gone into attack mode and taken something that was clearly not personal(a nonpersonal tweet) as an affront. – The author mentioned the owner previously, so to remain consistant (and shave a word) I changed she or he to owner. I changed the ambiguous something to tweet and gave it a nice adjective, thus shaving three words.
  20. The thing is, I’d been meaning to check out that shop (the) next time I was in(visited) that area of town , because I’d seen them on Twitter.I deleted the flabby phrase The thing is. I added the so the sentence flowed more smoothly. I changed the flabby phrase was in to visited to shave a word. The phrase of town is unnecessary.
  21. But after being scolded in public(the owner scolded me in public) for such a stupid non-reason, you can bet I’ve never set foot in there.Passive Voice Alert: I changed the sentence to start with who was scolding.
  22. Forget that(the saying,) “yYou get what you give. – You get what you give is a famous saying so I added the saying. The way the author wrote this, it read as if he wanted the reader to forget the quote.
  23. You don’t have to follow everyone back who follows you on Twitter. – The word back is unnecessary. This article is about Twitter, so the author didn’t have to mention on Twitter.
  24. But you do have to provide value to make an impact(impact people) on TwitterMake an impact is a Nominalization Alert. Using impact as a noun is weaker than using it as a verb, so I changed it (Yeah, I blew it by not using “effect” instead. Sue me). Again, I deleted the phrase on Twitter, because we know which social platform this article highlights.
  25. That could mean that you’re(Be) entertaining, helpful, or informative, so long as you provide something that others want(value to others). – The phrase That could mean that you’re is flabby. I changed it and shaved four words. The phrase something that others want is ambiguous because of the word something.
  26. In short, there has to be a reason for people (people need a reason) to follow you. – Don’t start sentences with there is, there are, there has to be. These constructions are flabby. I changed it and shaved four words.
  27. The value doesn’t necessarily have to consist of making(stem from sending) great tweets. – The phrase have to consist of is flabby. I changed it to stem from and shaved two words. Since we don’t make tweets, I changed making it to sending.
  28. Some popular Twitter accounts are simply automated links to new blog posts, but the thing is they are posts that people are eager to see (them), and not some boring blog that’s just a tepid rehash(with tepid rehashes) of what everyone else is saying(says). – I removed the word simply because I didn’t feel it was necessary. The whole phrase the thing is they are post that is unnecessary and a large clunk of flab. I removed it and shaved seven words. Since I changed the sentence, I had to add the word them for the sentence to make sense. I removed the word and after the second comma because it weakens the power of the sentence. I used the phrase with tepid rehashes because it flowed better. I used says instead of is saying because it sounds stronger.
  29. You don’t have to appeal to everybody to make Twitter work for you, but you do have to (must) deliver something that’s of value(value) to your target audience. – The phrase do have to is flabby. I replaced it with must and shaved two words. The phrase something that’s of value is vague and flabby. I changed it to value and shaved three words.
  30. What are some ways that people have(ways have people) turned you off on Twitter? – The phrase are some ways that people have is flabby. I reworked it and shaved three words.
  31. What would your one piece of advice be to those just starting out (Twitter rookies)? – The phrase those just starting out is flabby. I replaced it and shaved two words.

Copyediting Tutorial #3 is finished, and so is my brain from creating it. Did you know this took me about eight hours to complete? Well, it did, so I hope you spend one minute in the comments telling me how much smarter you are after reading this labor of love. I’m off to drink a beer.

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4 Comments on “Copyediting Tutorial #3”

  1. […] Arthur has some great demos of his edits at his Editing Hacks – might make a client understand more – anyone […]

  2. K T Rajagopalan says:

    That was a marvellous piece!

    It was not surprising that you did a splendid job copy-editing, but the more important thing, to me, is the way you explained why you sis what you did. Also, the value-addition by replacing words/phrases like ‘end up with’ by ‘land’, ‘those just starting out’ by ‘rookies’,

  3. […] He started a guest blogging program some time back to help bloggers write better, and get noticed and land guest posts with influential bloggers. I went through his program and it does indeed kick ass. After doing the program, the main thing I learned is his methods are so bleepin’ simple, yet so overlooked by most bloggers I’ve seen struggling for attention. I was left thinking how much of an unfair advantage his students have over bloggers trying to get attention and write powerful prose on their own. And I liked the program so much, I started offering people in the forum free color-coded line edits of their posts to give their guest posts a final polish (I edit in case you didn’t know. The edits I did for Jon’s guestblogging program look like these edit tutorials I did in the past.) […]


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