Whoever has gone through the ecstasies and agonies of writing an essay knows the satisfaction (and quite often the sadness) of finishing. Once you have done most of the work of finding out what you need to express, coming to an arguable and interesting thesis, analyzing your evidence, organizing your ideas, and contending with counter-arguments, you may believe that you have got nothing left to do but run spell-check, print it out and await your professor’s response. Exactly what spell- check can’t discern is exactly what real readers might think or feel if they read your essay: where they could become confused, or annoyed, or bored, or distracted. Anticipating those responses could be the working job of an editor—the job you are taking on as you edit your own personal work.
As you proceed, remember that sometimes what may seem like a small problem can mask (be a manifestation of) a bigger one. (more…)