Editing Your Own Work – The Traffic Light Revision Technique

Photo by Harshal Desai on Unsplash

Today’s post comes from an article I read about the best methods to edit your own work. As editing is kind of a big thing in the world of writing, I thought it would be interesting to see how different editors use their own processes to edit their work.

As mentioned in my previous post, every editor is different, and therefore, every editor will have a different process. This is actually a good thing because it means we can learn from others, and our editing process can improve.

While tools like Grammarly do a similar thing when using the document editor, this process, which is called The Traffic Light Revision technique, is a more hands-on editing process that you can do at any time when creating your blog posts.

Stephanie Flaxman from Copyblogger uses this technique when she writes, and it just might be the thing you’re looking for if you want to rely less on software apps and browser extensions. There is nothing wrong with good old-fashioned manual editing.

Here’s the technique in the step-by-step format:

1. Make a copy of the document

Include “TLRT1” in the file name when you save this copy.

Now you have the original document and a version you will mark-up first before you edit.

2. As you examine each sentence, highlight it with green, yellow, or red

Use green if you think the sentence is the best it can be. Choose yellow if you think minor modifications will make the sentence stronger. Select red if you think it should be completely revised or removed.

Don’t change the text yet.

3. Make another copy of the document

Include “TLRT2” in the file name when you save this copy. The “TLRT2” version will be the file you edit.

Before you edit the document and change the colours, you want to save the original marked-up “TLRT1” version for future reference.

You can learn from the “TLRT1” document with the green, yellow, and red text. It will help you recognise your strengths and weaknesses.

4. Edit the yellow and red areas

You may also need to edit the green text to accommodate the changes you make in the red and yellow portions, but don’t waste time repeatedly reviewing the green text you already regard as solid content.

As you revise the weaker sections, change yellow and red portions to green.

5. Proofread each sentence from the beginning

Once all of your text is green, you should be able to read it from the start without making any edits.

If you still need to change parts of the text, consider highlighting those sections in yellow or red. Take a break and correct those areas at a later time, until everything is green.

When you have trouble identifying whether a sentence should be green, yellow, or red, ask yourself:

“Do these words clearly communicate my true intent and give my audience a cohesive presentation?”

If your sentence is vague or assumes your reader knows something she may not actually know, you will likely benefit from a revision.

Let me know if you’ve used any or all of the editing steps above. And if you like my content, please follow this blog. Thanks!

Posted by

Freelance entertainment writer, blogger and content creator. Visit my website https://www.juliegwrites.com.

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