Annie On Writing

February 20, 2011

Self Editing Tips – 3# – Write to be Right

Filed under: Articles From write anything,My Journey as a Writer — Annie Evett @ 12:01 am

This article first appeared over at Write Anything

I’ll get it out there and in the open.  My punctuation is poor. My spelling, appalling. I loathe grammar. I fall in love with adjectives. Anyone who has read my first drafts or been on the end of a skype chat with me furiously typing away can attest to those things.  In short, a career coach would do all they could to steer

ٍEditing strike01

me away from my dream of being a writer because I lack the basics.

However, it begs the question. Is writing about the mechanics – or is there something deeper which separates those who can and those who can’t write? ( and perhaps those who shouldn’t.. but then – who is to judge that?)

Perhaps one of the most important lessons an emerging writer can take on, is to make the decision that “when they write, they are right.” To do this, one must be conscious; no matter what they commit to the screen or to paper; that it is correct. It is a journey which I endeavour to take every time I write, battling against my ‘failings’; determined to ‘make it.’

Heather Harris , a freelance editor and editor over at Pop Bunker has recently aired her thoughts about the shabby attitude of apparently professional writers; particularly with regards to their lack of attention to the basics. Her thoughts triggered this post and in my ownership of my own lack of expertise in the area.

In my series of self editing tips, I’d like to focus on some of the basics she so eloquently points out as failures in most ‘professional’ writers works.

As important as correct spelling and grammar are, errors can slip through past even a thorough check. Running your wordprocessings spell check doesn’t constitute “reasonable” by the way. Try running your finger or a pen through the sentences backwards – so that you aren’t caught up with the text and you are actually checking the words.

Check words your spell check may have missed. An example of this might be typing ‘her’ instead of ‘here.’ Your spell check won’t get this because ‘her’ is spelled correctly, even though it’s not the right word.

Before pressing ‘send’ or ‘post’, give the document a careful reading – out loud is best. I am often horrified at how clumsy my structure is with a read through.

Particularly for public documents; such as competition pieces (one would hope that you undertake a series of beta readers and editors though) and work which will remain in the public domain, it may mean that you ask another person to read over it. Given the text sprang from our fingers, we as the author intimately know what we ‘meant’ by a series of words.  It doesn’t mean that our carefully constructed sentences will hold meaning for others; or that that our readers will pick up on our clever nuances.

Make no bones about it.  The competition stakes are high for writers. Choose to produce well rounded documents with few glaring holes, and your work will automatically rise to the top percentage. Choose to write, right. I am on my journey in doing so and am always happy to be picked up and assisted in ‘the things I need more work on’.  Particularly with public domain documents – you never know who is reading it.. and when they do.. take care of your “image’ as a professional  writer.

I will echo Heathers words  “I want my industry to be represented by the competent and talented folks who deserve the credit. It’s that simple, or at least, I think it should be.”

Bravo Heather… ditto.

Image via Wikipedia

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1 Comment »

  1. You make some great points there. I giggled with the reference to the furious typing on Skype. As a former English teacher to the young and moldable (13-18 year old’s), I am known to get on them for missing some of the most basic writing rules. Spelling. In college I would tutor students (mostly foreign exchange) on their writing skills. It was amazing how much they learned in a short period of time, that an American student did not learn after 12 years of grammar school.

    I have two rules when I’m reading through someone’s writing. First I let them know that there’s a first draft for a reason. Write like there’s no tomorrow (like NaNoWriMo). Don’t worry about spelling, until you’re done with your first draft. Then check spelling & grammar. I ask them to do this before giving it to me to look over and make it bleed.

    If I can’t get through the first paragraph, the writer REALLY needs to go back and do some serious rewrites. I remember one from college that I couldn’t get through the first sentences. It was awful. But I do have to say that I am guilty. When I’m in a hurry, I’ll make up my own grammar rules. “Oh, Word has a green squiggly under this, that means something is wrong. OK, let’s try this.” If it gets rid of the squiggly, I think I’ve done good. Not always.

    So, all of us have our writing handicap (for lack of a better word). But again, that’s what a first draft is for. If you’re writing a blog, or email, a wise woman once told me “Save to Draft” before hitting send. Your intent may not come through the writing, and may sound more harsh than intended.

    Look what I’ve learned over the years from people I’ve written with. Makes me glad that I didn’t stop.


    Comment by Kari — February 20, 2011 @ 12:42 am | Reply

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