Editing Your Draft
Student Preparation: Read Study Guide and Chapter 8 in The Tongue and Quill.
Cognitive Lesson Objective: Apply editing guidelines IAW Chapter 8 in the The Tongue and Quill
(Step 6: Editing Your Draft).
Cognitive Samples of Behavior: Explain the five editing fundamentals IAW the The Tongue and Quill. Demonstrate a three-step approach for editing IAW the The Tongue
and Quill. Review documents for the effective flow of ideas.
Review paragraphs for formatting and clarity.
Identify any errors in the sentences, phrases, and wording (e.g., passive voice, grammar, and spelling).
Affective Lesson Objective: Respond to the importance of editing any written communication.
Affective Samples of Behavior: Participate in class discussion about editing.
Refer to the The Tongue and Quill for guidance about editing.
Editing Your Draft 155 154
EDITING YOUR DRAFT
As an officer, youll be asked to wear many hats in the writing arenawriter, editor, and reviewer. Not only will you be asked to write correspondence for others to sign, youll also edit and review the work of your subordinates. As such, you must have sound writing skills to critique the work of others. Finally, you need to be able to critique your own writing for support and content, organization and flow of ideas, then mechanics and format. During class youre going to edit a first and second draft of an official memorandum. Then your instructor will assign the official memorandum exercise, which is your practice for the official memorandum graded measurement.
Editing your work and the work of others is a big responsibilityone you should not pass off to others. Its true secretaries and executive officers review all correspondence with a fine-toothed comb; however, they shouldnt be the ones to find errors in your work. When they have to send correspondence back to the organization for correction, it impacts mission effectiveness and makes you lose credibility.
Credibility is essential when reviewing the work of others. That doesnt mean you have to be an English professor; however, you do need to have a solid, working knowledge of grammar, punctuation, and effective writing. Although use of grammar and spell check on the computer is encouraged, you cant rely on these features alone to catch your mistakes.
When Youre the Supervisor
When youre reviewing or critiquing the written work of your subordinates, dont try to turn them into clones of yourself! Your job is to help them turn out a strong product. You need to examine their work in a manner thats:
CONSISTENT: Theres nothing more aggravating than an inconsistent boss!
OBJECTIVE: Just because you wouldnt write that way doesnt make it wrong. Evaluate whether the change is necessary, desirable, or unnecessary.
SENSITIVE: Dont just tell them fix it; tell them how to fix it...tactfully! People generally dont write poorly on purpose.
When Youre on the Receiving End
Its to your benefit to ask others to review your work when the opportunity presents itself. Sometimes, even though we ask for a critique, we are resentful when it comes our way--pride of authorship momentarily blinds us.
When you receive objective feedback on your work:
Accept whatever constructive criticism comes your way. Attitude is all-importantmaintain a positive one.
Dont argue or defend your work; you wont be able to do that when your readers receive your memorandum!
Decide up front you can use the feedback to IMPROVE your work.
Remember: To develop a clear, direct, technically correct writing style, you need to develop efficient editing techniques. The secret is to be objective, look at your writing through your readers eyes and pay attention to detail.
Dont edit your writing immediately after you write your first draft! Youre still in the writers frame of mind. Put your draft away (overnight if possible) until you can look at it from a different light. Youll be more objective and catch more mistakes!
Spend as much time editing as writingboth are equally important to a good solid memorandum.
Editing is an essential part of writing--it comes with the territory! When you write, meet suspenses early so you have time to edit your work effectively. That makes a win-win-win situation: your boss wins, you win, and the organization wins!
Edit the first time through for big picture and flow. Look for answers to these questions:
Have you given all the information the reader needs?
Have you answered all the questions the reader might ask? (Remember completeness)
Has the memorandum fulfilled its purpose--told the reader what you want?
Will reader correctly interpret technical jargon and abstractions or is clarification needed?
Have you included only essential information related to the purpose? (Remember unity)
Have you followed a proper pattern for smooth flow of ideas? (Remember order)
Is there logical movement within the memorandum?
Editing Your Draft 157 156
Edit the second time through for paragraph structure. Look for:
Accurate statement of purpose
Overview in the introduction paragraph
Main ideas stated in the topic sentences
Proper paragraph development (supporting ideas)
Transitions that bind thoughts together (Remember coherence)
Conversational tone (Remember coherence again)
No dead words and phrases
Varied personal pronouns (1P or 2P in intro, TS, and closure; use 1P, 2P or 3P in body)
Contractions (they work best when followed by a verb)
Edit the final time for mechanics and format. Try reading it backwards. Look for:
Correct spelling, word choice, and punctuation
Grammatically correct sentence structure (e.g., subject-verb agreement, active voice, etc.)
Correct memorandum format (margins, spacing, heading, signature block)
We hope youve discovered how important the Tongue and Quill is for successful communication in the Air Force. The Holm Center provides all students an electronic copy.
______________________________Bibliography:AFH 33-337. The Tongue and Quill, 27 May 2015.
BibliographyEditing Your DraftWhen Youre the Supervisor When Youre on the Receiving End