The 'Freddy Krueger' editing checklist

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I can’t let ‘Halloween month’ pass without taking every possible opportunity to force a horror theme into my blog posts.

This week we’re talking editing techniques. Editing is the bulk of the work for a copywriter — without fierce editing skills, your wicked copy is formless, rambling and rough.

So today we’re going to take editing tips from (arguably) the fiercest of them all: Freddy Krueger.

Pick up your pen, pay attention and whatever you do…don’t fall asleep…


1.Study your victim

In order to attack the copy effectively (so to speak), you’ll need to know it inside out (so to speak). Get your hands on the brief, arm yourself with a pen and scribble notes all over that thing until you have everything set in your mind. Don’t be tempted to rush — rushing at this stage could lead to more rounds of edits later on.


2. Go on a rampage

It’s time to go in for the kill, baby. Turn off your editing brain and attack that blank page. Splatter your creativity all over it with abandon. You’ll have time to polish it up later. At this stage, pure creativity rules and every idea is a good one.


3. Leave it to soak

Now it’s time to leave your copy to ‘soak’. Set the job aside and move on to a different task for a few hours. This’ll give your brain time to rest and allows you to revisit the copy with fresh eyes. Editing is much easier when there’s a little distance between you and the job.

I often like to do this stage a second time after I’ve completed the first round of edits (because you can never be too safe).


4. Employ strategy

Freddy’s smart use of strategy is one of the reasons he’s able to manage so many victims at once. Remember when he turned the stairs to glue? Genius.

It’s time to go through the copy and look at it logically. Does it answer the brief? Can any of the wording be made clearer or shorter? Have you used any words which might be off-brand? Don’t get precious — much like our pal Freddy, sometimes you have to kill your favourites.


5. Finish it once and for all

Many of us are tempted to spend extra time faffing and tinkering when the draft is done.

This can really fuck with good work, so once it's been checked and proofed, submit that thing and stop being a fanny.

You need to trust that you did a thorough job at each stage: research, creative writing and editing. Don’t maul it.

Emma Cownley