Ruralite Assistant Editor Pam Blair edits local pages with a purple pen, her trademark color. Photo by Mike Teegarden

What does every writer fear on a page? Red ink.

Peer editing shouldn’t trigger panic. Instead, think of it as a safety net. When you write an article, it’s easy to overlook missing words or phrases that don’t quite make sense. You know what you meant to say, so you may miss potential stumbling blocks for your readers.

There are a few tricks you can use for better self-editing. Try reading your draft article out loud. A verbal sound check makes it easier to spot problems. You can also read a story backwards (start at the end and work your way up) to look for spelling errors.

Online editing tools such as the Hemingway Editor help you pick better words and simplify sentences to boost readability. The app creators call it a spellchecker for style. But at the end of the day, nothing beats having someone else look at your work.

Ruralite’s Process

Ruralite’s editing process has several stages. At least 3 Ruralite staff edit every magazine page, using different ink colors to track edit authors. Then each utility has a unique review process.

“Even if your story is fabulous, there are still small tweaks that will be made along the way,” says Ruralite Assistant Editor Pam Blair. “Be careful of showing early copy to story subjects.”

Utility editors and general managers are ultimately in charge of what goes into the magazine. If they do not like a feature story, they can cut it.

“When I rearrange things or ask you to get more colorful quotes, I’m trying to make you look better,” says Pam. “Don’t assume we’re trying to beat up on you. We’re trying to make you look good and help your readers, too.”

What Tools Do You Use to Keep Your Writing Sharp?

Share your editing tips and favorite resources.