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How to edit your texts to improve your style and your fluidity: the pros method

Small precision: the English language clearly differentiates between writing, editing and publishing but it is a little less clear in French, so when I speak of editing a text, it is about the operation which consists of reworking it in order to publish it.

Once you’ve managed to turn an idea into a manuscript and write a rough draft, the classic way to edit a book is quite simple:

  • Sit in front of your computer
  • Reread his text in his head
  • Make changes
  • If you have browsed this site a bit, you may be using some guidelines to help (or improve) this rewriting work:
  • 3 tips to proofread and correct your manuscript
  • 7 techniques to improve the quality of your texts
  • 10 tips for becoming a best author
  • But there is another way of proceeding, certainly more laborious, but more effective. It is used by authors such as Tucker Max, Tim Ferriss, Neil Strauss, Ryan Holiday and James Altucher (and myself, but it is true that suddenly it is less prestigious).

The pros method to edit a text

This technique may seem a little strange to you since we are talking about writing, but it is nevertheless the most effective method that exists: it is to read your manuscript aloud for someone else and edit the text based on what you hear.

Yes, it may sound weird. A little boring. And long enough … Besides, it is! But I swear it’s effective. And if authors who have sold millions of books do so, there is no doubt a reason, no?

Moreover, all the writers mentioned earlier tell the same story: after a long process of writing and correction and dozens of round trips with their editors, they were sure to have a book as polished as a diamond . Then they had to record the audio version of their book a few weeks later, to realize that there were dozens of shells and heaviness in their book.

This is something to be aware of: do not imagine that having read your manuscript 30 times makes it free from any fault. It is often only by taking the time to re-read your text aloud (and preferably to someone else) that you will be aware of any remaining errors or possible improvements.

Why read his text to someone else?

Reading his text aloud is an incomparable technique to improve the style and rhythm of his sentences. But we must not lie, most of the time, we end up just by whispering quickly what we have in front of our eyes to ensure that there is no spelling mistake or mistake of conjugation .

And we miss all the benefit of the exercise.

Whereas if you read your text to someone else, you must read clearly, articulate and mark the punctuation. Even if the person who is listening to you is not a professional of the word, they will be able to tell you if what you read sounds good or does not sound good.

This is a great way to gauge the quality of your manuscript: if your text sounds good, then it reads easily. On the other hand, if you have trouble reading a sentence or pronouncing it aloud, there is probably some rewriting work to be done.

If you can offer the services of an editorial advisor or a professional publisher, that’s fine. But if it is not the case, your listener can be any volunteer, if he speaks the same language as you and he is a minimum interested in your subject (it makes things anyway, because it takes a little time).

How to proceed to read his text aloud?

No need to put the dishes in the big, be cool. You have to be well settled and your listener too. An armchair or a sofa does the job, but a sunbed on a terrace is not unpleasant either. Plan to drink and eat, then get started!

Of course, it is not a question of reading everything in one go like a playwright playing a theatrical performance. Ideally, unless you have phenomenal stamina, it will take 2 to 4 sessions, since it takes 4 to 5 hours to read a book of 40,000 words.

As you read, comment, and comment, take notes, annotate, and correct your text. No pressure, it is simply a question of obtaining a final result that is satisfactory for everyone.

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