Peer Editing: How to Edit Essays By Other Writers

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  • 0:07 Edit Essays by Other Writers
  • 0:45 Understanding the…
  • 2:07 Editing for Content
  • 2:41 Editing for Mechanics
  • 3:05 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Doresa Jennings

Doresa holds a Ph.D. in Communication Studies.

Alfred Sheinwold once said, 'Learn all you can from the mistakes of others.' A great way to improve your own writing is by editing the writing of others - especially when you have to find the not so obvious mistakes. That is what we will be learning in this lesson - how to edit the work of other writers. The biggest benefit will be in helping you avoid those same mistakes in your own writing.

How to Edit Essays by Other Writers

Alfred Sheinwold is quoted as having said, 'Learn all you can from the mistakes of others. You won't have time to make them all yourself.' There may not be a better quote to help us understand why learning to edit the work of others helps our own writing. To allow us an appropriate parable, let's put ourselves in the position of a tailor being asked to alter a suit our customer loves. We didn't design the suit. We didn't make the suit. Our job is simply to make the suit fit correctly on the customer - the way we must assume the original designer envisioned it would fit on people who purchased it.

Understanding the Author's Intent

The first step in being a tailor is to look at the article of clothing we are altering to understand the original intent of the designer. How did they expect the piece to fit? How are the lines supposed to look across the body? What is the mood of the outfit? The same is true when editing the work of others. Our first step is to read through the piece to determine the original intent of the author. There are some questions we should try to answer when reviewing the piece:

  1. Who was their most likely intended audience?
  2. What is the thesis of the piece? What are the main points?
  3. What is the mood of the piece?

Once we truly have an understanding of the piece, we can move on to editing.

Ensure that writers have organized their essays in a consistent, logical way
Logical Essay Order

Just like when we are editing our own writing, there are two types of editing that we should consider when reviewing the work of others - editing for content and editing for mechanics. Editing for content tends to be the more difficult of the two when we are looking at the work from other writers. The reason this tends to be difficult is that we aren't writing in our own style or from our own personal views, we are editing in the style intended by the original author.

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