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The Quick-Smart Editing System

Lesson 27 from: From Structure to Style: Master Your Copywriting

Shani Raja

The Quick-Smart Editing System

Lesson 27 from: From Structure to Style: Master Your Copywriting

Shani Raja

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Lesson Info

27. The Quick-Smart Editing System

Next Lesson: Quiz - Chapter 6


Class Trailer

Chapter 1: Copywriting Fundamentals


Class Introduction - Overview of the Course Content


The Five Aspirations of a Superior Copywriter


The Importance of Defining Your Intention & Audience


The “Secret Sauce” of Good Copywriting


Quiz - Chapter 1

Chapter 2: Simplicity


Introduction - The Power of Simplicity


Lesson Info

The Quick-Smart Editing System

So if you've got your document ready, I'm now going to run through the steps of this quick but smart editing system now, don't think that you always need to go through these steps sequentially later, as your experience grows, you'll probably find yourself doing these steps more or less simultaneously as I tend to do myself. Moreover, sometimes a document that you're editing maybe in good enough shape already, that some of the steps won't even be necessary. I'm breaking things down here in a step by step way, just so you can understand the process. Now, what I recommend you do is listen to me talk about each step first and then pause the video and carry out that particular step. Okay, so if you're ready, then let's begin. Step one, give the document a quick read through. Start by just giving the document, you're editing a cursory read through, provided it's not too long, just read the entire thing the whole way through in a casual, not too intense way. The idea is to get you familiar wi...

th the subject matter and with what the writing is geared towards achieving, ascertain the scope and the boundaries of the piece and also the quality of the writing that you're dealing with, it's much easier to edit something once you know exactly what it's about where it's going and how good it is. As I said, just read through the document in a cursory, not too detailed way and after you've done that, Go to step two step to explicitly define your intention and audience. The next step is to explicitly define the primary intention and the specific audience for the piece of work that you're editing earlier in the course, we looked at the various intentions that you might have, such as to inform, to persuade, to entertain, to motivate, educate or transform well, this is the time to write that intention down and also includes specific details of the audience you're targeting with the writing. So, for example, you might write down the intention of this sales copy is to persuade fitness fanatics worldwide to buy my new health drink, or the intention of this report is to persuade policymakers to change the country's euthanasia laws or the intention of this blog post is to inform the general public of the dangers of eating red meat. Now, also note down any secondary intentions worth mentioning, for example, the intention of this blog post is to inform the general public of the dangers of eating red meat and to do so in an entertaining way, and then you're ready to go to the next step. Step three physically separate the points. The next step is to break the points up into stand alone paragraphs. This is largely a technical step, so it's an easy one to basically, I want you to break the text up in your document into separate points, one after the other. You should end up with each sentence physically separated from the previous one. Kind of like its own paragraph effectively, when all the sentences are separated from each other physically, it's easier to assess each point more objectively. And that's the real point of this exercise. Now, you may notice there's some sentences um that that that contain two or more points. In that case you're welcome to turn each point into its own sentence physically separate from the rest as well. At this stage, you don't have to change the order or wording of any of the points just separate them. So you can begin evaluating each sentence in isolation from every other. And when you've done that separated all the points from each other, let's go on to the next step, Step four, make sure each point makes sense. Now look at each standalone sentence, one x one, with the sole objective of determining whether it makes complete sense to you. If any point is unclear, decide to seek clarification from the author perhaps. But for now, for the purpose of this exercise, you can try to guess the point that you think is being made and then write it in a way that it makes perfect sense to you. You can make a reasoned assumption which you can decide perhaps later to get the author to check if you're totally unable to stand up a point after checking it or thinking about it. It's probably best to delete it if a point doesn't make sense to you, there's a very good chance that it won't make sense to your readers either. The exception is where the text requires a particular kind of specialist knowledge to understand it at all, in which case it may be best that you choose something else to edit for this exercise. Okay, once you've ensured that every point makes sense to you, you may go on to the next step. Step five, make sure each point is relevant to your purpose. Now go through each point again, one at a time, but this time delete anything that you feel may not be crucial to the narrative. In other words, look for points that you think maybe don't help to fulfill the needs of the narrative, the overall purpose of the piece that you noted down earlier. For example, if your purpose is to inform people of the dangers of eating red meat in an entertaining way, you will now look for any points that are irrelevant or not particularly useful to fulfilling that purpose and you will delete them afterwards, you'll be left only with unambiguously relevant and worthwhile points that all makes sense. Step six, make sure each point is unique. Next we want to go through each point that's left and make sure that it isn't repeated anywhere else within the narrative. That is we want to ensure that each point in the narrative is unique. For example, you might have one point that says eating red meat has many dangerous consequences and further down you might find or that you're the writer has also said there are many risks associated with eating red meat. Now, unless you have a very good reason for keeping both of these sentences in the text. Say for the sake of reinforcement for drama or for poetry, you want to delete one of them. Now take care here. There might be a case where two points sound similar, but they have a slightly different emphasis. For example, many of the risks associated with eating red meat are well known. Now. That's slightly different from saying there are many risks associated with eating red meat slightly right? So it may be worth keeping both for now. Okay, step seven, ensure that all the facts and details are correct. It's a good idea. Now to make sure that the content is all accurate. So just go through each point and assess whether all the facts seem to be correct. If anything appears doubtful to you, you may want to do some more research on, on it, to confirm its accuracy or else you may decide to double check anything you're not sure about with the original writer of the piece. Now, at this stage, it's also worth confirming things like the genders of any people mentioned in the text to prevent you wrongly assigning words like Miss Mr or anything else. People's job titles. If if anyone mentioned in the piece, you may want to check that they are correct. The spelling and titles of any organizations that are referred to and anything else related to the content of the piece after you've checked these things and if necessary, fixed up any points you're ready to move on to the next step. Step eight. Consider whether anything is missing. I want you to think back to your purpose and consider now whether there may be anything worth adding into the text that might help you to fulfill your stated purpose, anything that isn't already there. Now, you want to consider whether, for instance any new details or examples could be offered that may help better achieve that purpose. After you've considered whether anything is missing from the piece that could usefully be added to it. And once you've gone ahead and added it, you can go on to the next step. Step nine Create narrative sections by now, you should have a narrative composed of totally comprehensible, relevant, useful and unique points in other words, you're in a much better place than at the start of the edit. Right now, it's time to begin arranging the points into an elegant narrative. Now to do this, I want you to look at each of the clear, relevant and unique points that you now have before you. And I want you to begin giving each point a section heading. Just tag each point with a proposed section heading and then give the same heading to any of the other points that seem to fall within that same category as that particular point. For example, suppose the piece you're editing is an article say about rising homelessness in California, The State. One of the points you have there may seem to fall into a broader category like evidence of rising homelessness. Another point that you have there might fit into a broad category like rising homelessness in other U. S. States. Another point may fall into the category of anecdote of a person recently made homeless. And another point might fall into the category of causes of rising homelessness in California. And another category might be what the state is doing to combat rising homelessness. Now, if you've done this well, you will have found several points that fall into the same category. And don't be surprised if you find that your category definitions change as you go along. That's a normal thing. As you begin to understand the material better and better. Just keep going with the tagging of points until you're satisfied that you've created several clear and meaningful broad categories throughout the document, including a category if needed for any miscellaneous points that don't seem to fit Step 10. Make the sections flow. Well now, hopefully you're done tagging all of the points within specific section headings. If so, you're ready to begin making the different sections or blocks of your narrative flow Well together. First off, make a separate list of all the unique section headings that have appeared in your tags, in other words, list your categories so that you can see them all in one place, ideally at the top of the, of the document. Then I want you to look at how those sections could best be ordered to create the most logical flow from one category to another. For example, here are the five categories I created earlier placed now in a reasonably elegant order. So there you've got the topic of rising homelessness in California. Evidence of rising homelessness, anecdote of person recently made homeless causes of rising homelessness in California. What's been done to combat rising homelessness in California and rising homelessness in other US States, etcetera. Now you may notice that some of your sections are more closely related to each other than others or that they flow better into each other. So you may want to move those related sections nearer to each other on the list to get the best possible arrangement, the idea is to end up with a neatly ordered list of sections that uh that proceed both logically and elegantly in line with your purpose. Step 11, put the points into their sections now that your sections are better ordered, you're ready to move the points into their relevant categories. Now, I want you to just physically move the points you previously tagged into their designated sections under the heading so you can then remove the tags from the points as you do so, so it looks less messy. Keep the category headings in place so that you can continue to have an overview of the structure. You should now find that the narrative is a lot Tidier. The points are no longer a random list of ideas but are neatly placed within elegantly flowing categories. Step 12. Order the points elegantly within their sections. You're ready now to begin a more refined edit of the points within each section. Move the various points around within their respective sections to create the most orderly and elegant arrangement of those points, those individual points to you could start by deciding which point in each section to begin with and which to end with for that particular section and then decide where the remaining points should go within that same section. What you're doing here is building elegance into the movement of points within sections as well as between the sections themselves. Step 13, apply the secret source. Now it's time to begin tying those well ordered points together to read in the best way possible and you can do so using the simplicity, clarity, elegance, evocative nous framework that I gave you at the start of the course. In other words, you now want to make sure that the piece is written in the most simple, clear, elegant and evocative way possible. It's great if you can remember all of the tactics that I showed you, but it doesn't matter if you can't at this stage. For now just apply what you do remember to the best of your ability. Just aim to balance the four ingredients to your own liking and to make the script read as best as it can based on whatever you remember, you could look at, for instance, tightening your sentences to make them snappier, making the language more plain and punchy, making the ideas crisp, sharp and bright, making the writing more rhythmic and musical and making the pros more stimulating. For instance, if possible, by creating a bit of color and drama if you haven't already done, so you may now remove the category headings to if it's helpful, you can replace them with new sentences that tie the sections together nicely or make the transitions between them more smooth. These narrative turns can sometimes give better definition to your narrative, but just be aware that it won't always be necessary or possible. Step 14, check the spelling grammar and punctuation. Finally, let's take some time to tidy up the presentation of the writing. Use this opportunity to ensure that things like the headings and the formatting all look good and consistent. Check the spelling and punctuation, clean up any typos and then step back. It's a good time to take stock and marvel at what you've just created. I expect and hope that what you have before you now is a piece of writing that is much more comprehensible and a great deal more compelling then the document that you started out with and if it is you can give yourself a big pat on the back. But before you do that, please go ahead and take the quiz at the end of this video, which will ensure that you fully absorbed the lessons in this chapter. After that, I'll see you in the next chapter for a summary and some final words.