Your Final Draft

Now, at last it is time to create the final draft in which you edit your manuscript, to make it as good as you have dreamed it could be.You are ready to practice the art of editing.

To unpathed waters, undreamed shores.

- Shakespeare Winters Tale Act IV, scene iv

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The Art of Editing What You Write

"Without editors, writers are nothing but makers of lace."

- C. Shields (2003) Unless, Random House of Canada, 177

Who will help you edit? Certainly not editors of scientific journals: Editorial staffs of journals do not provide this service. They will return your paper, often after only reading enough to see that the style of language you have used does not fit that of their journal. If you get any advice, beyond a simple rejection, from the journal to which you send your paper, it will probably be a sentence telling you to get language help for your paper.

How does this affect you and what can you do? First of all, many amateur or unpublished writers take their writing far too personally. Whatever is said about their writing they take to apply to them as a person - as a scientist. Don't do this, for if you react this way, you may never get a paper in good enough shape to be published. The quality of your writing does not reflect on your intelligence or your worth as a scientist, only on one of your skills.

Now is the winter of our discontent. ..

- Shakespeare Richard III Act I, scene i

Second, as a writer of science you need to realize that what you write is a product: A product similar to a cake a baker mixes together and bakes. The success of the cake depends on the quality of the ingredients, the quantity of the ingredients, the sequence of putting them together, and a tender touch. When the cake turns out well, we congratulate the baker. However, when the cake does not turn out well, we do not think badly of the baker as a person, only as a baker of cake. To get a manuscript published you must learn to edit your manuscript several times with colleagues, and do it carefully, or else stop - so to speak - trying to make a cake.

Third, remember that writing is a social activity. Even when you write alone, writing is a social activity, because you are always writing for an audience of readers, seeking their understanding. You need others to reassure you that your manuscript is written so that all readers will understand each of your points.

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