When I was in grade school, we were given an assignment: Come up with a rough draft for a story. The emphasis was supposed to be on 'rough'.
I started writing my story. I think it was about a dragon terrorizing a country and a knight coming to save them all, but I'm not too terribly sure. 9 year old me wasn't that imaginative, so it could have possibly been The Red Cross Knight story.
When I had finished, I informed the teacher. She then asked me to go through, proofread, and edit the story (editing mistakes in spelling, grammar, etc).
After 2 minutes of doing this, I triumphantly handed my paper in, confident that the three mistakes I had found were all the mistakes in the story.
Boy was I wrong. The problem is, I couldn't see it because I wasn't looking hard enough. I wasn't asking myself the critical questions I should have:
- If I take away this sentence, does the story still make sense?
- If I reword this sentence to be in the active voice, does it improve the story?
- If I make all sentences so simple that they don't need commas, does that improve the story?
If you look hard enough, or even not-so-hard enough, and you focus on making the content better when you edit it, you'll always be able to find enough to edit to pass the system's check on edits.