I have been a freelance expert with Peerwith for more than a year and have been proofreading and editing since 2014. Coming from a teaching background, I was used to reviewing the work of others. However, the move to proofreading/editing has deepened my interest and pleasure in words, the joy of finding the right words and the pleasure of putting them together to convey meaning.
It can sometimes be difficult to find the right word in a language, especially when it may not be your first language. Sometimes we write several words when only one word will suffice. Sometimes there is a precise word that we cannot find. We “perform” experiments. We make an “argument” for an idea. We “analyse” data but we “evaluate” results and “propose” solutions. Such words convey precise meaning and eliminate ambiguity.
When I proofread, I usually find that I cut word counts. This is usually a good thing, especially for some clients who admit to being verbose! When writing, we can try to formulate the same idea several ways and this can come across in our writing. On occasions, two or three sentences can be condensed into one. This is, however not a loss: we make demands of our readers in communicating with them and reducing the amount of words they need to read is one way of reducing that demand.
Written language has a rhythm and structure which can be pleasing to the mind and eye. Short and simple sentences can alternate with longer and more complex sentences. Key expressions can be repeated throughout or between paragraphs to give them unity. Adverbs can mark progression of sequence (“firstly”…“then”…“finally”) or logic (“therefore”…“consequently”). Pronouns can create effective links across sentences. It is pleasing to see language that flows effectively.
Ultimately, writing is about communication, about telling someone else about your idea or convincing them of your argument. The written words should not, therefore, impede understanding or communication. At best, they can enhance the communication and make reading a pleasant and engaging experience.