It's not just for professional writers. Marg McAlister's book is an excellent reference tool for anyone who writes in various capacities, whether it be company memos or a whole book.
Back in the day, one of the first things I learned as a journalism major was that many (if not most) of us are a bit handicapped when it comes to editing our own content.
I'm very good at editing other folks' work and even enjoy it (most of the time) and the expertise I developed in it isn't because I'm brilliant. It's because I had fantastic teachers. (God bless you Mrs. Hocker, Mrs. Parks, Mr.Hopewell, Dr. Loving and Prof. Fred Walker, Jr. - Y'all are LEGEND!!)
If our (the students) content had technical errors, or didn't read like people actually talked, or the tone was off, or the punctuation was lacking ... it had to be fixed. There was never an "Oh well, let it slide, we're pressed for time." We were alerted to those sorts of fouls via intimidating and attention-demanding marks and notes, splashed all over our manuscripts, in notorious red ink.
My English, lit, composition and journalism teachers shoulda bought stock in red Flair pens 'cause I'm certain they went through gallons of it teaching me how to write it right.
We were taught to write it, re-write it, write it again and THEN turn it over to the editors' panel even if we served on the editors' panel. No one got to produce anything and their own edit be the final one. Our manuscripts always went through a minimum of three other reviewers before being passed back to use to fix our mistakes, then it went back through. When it finally passed the editors and no further corrections needed to be made ... tah-dahhhh! We could consider it finished.
So, for those of you who know me well enough to know that I do indeed spaz out over my own content errors (if not caught before they're published) now you know why. I think it's an obsessive-compulsive disorder developed from overdosing on red ink.
The fallout from poor editing ...
When writers fail to continue going the extra mile in editing, their readers will often think they didn't care enough about their work to bother, or that they didn't care enough about their reader to bother.
The reading-public at large may not be pro-writers, but that doesn't mean they don't recognize content errors. Many of them see them immediately, even if they're tiny ones.
If a story is laced with them, they may find it annoying enough to not only stop reading the document or book, they might be inclined to steer clear of further purchases of other documents or books from the writer.
But, that's not the worst thing that can happen. The worst that can happen is something like this ...
A few years ago I was privy to a conversation among some colleagues regarding a book one of them had bought. The buyer relayed to the others that the book was so riddled with errors that she couldn't stand to read it past the first few chapters. She set it aside and never finished it.
She wanted to let them know that the book wasn't worth purchasing their own copies of so they'd not be as disappointed as she was and felt her money had been wasted.
I heard that sort of comment from two different buyers of the same book, relaying the same sort of info to two different sets of listeners that were also avid readers.
We should all consider that when writing anything. We don't want our work to be considered so bad it's a waste of money, or a waste of time to be read.
Taking the time to write it right, even if you have an editor ...
If someone is going to bother writing anything that others have to read (something other than in a person's secret journal that's read by only them and God ... ), it's only considerate to take the time to give it a looking-over (or several look-overs) to ensure it's as correct as the writer can possibly get it. Granted, personal email correspondence might not warrant it, but a company memo, for example, would.
Taking it further, if you write professionally, just because you've secured a competent editor doesn't mean you should just send off your manuscripts to them looking all kinds of crazy. Care enough to take the time to get it as neat as it can be before it's released to them.
A few years ago, I'd accept an editing job without ever seeing the initial document. Not anymore. These days I read over at least a sample of the document before agreeing to edit and setting a price on the edit.
Because if I have to revamp nearly every (sometimes it's been every) sentence for the basic grade-school errors, I'm definitely gonna charge more. Writers who take the time to get their content brushed up and polished before turning it over for my initial perusal have snagged themselves a better price just because they took the time to try to write it right before asking me to peruse it.
Since self-editing isn't easy for lots of writers, here's an excellent little book to make it easier and help you do it better.
Use what works best for you ...
This books is excellent in its breakdown of different categories many writers may not realize they even have a problem with. Not all of the author's methods may work for you but I'm positive that you'll find the majority of her techniques and suggestions helpful. This book is especially good for bloggers and independent photojournalists who produce content on the run and don't have access, time or the money to invest in an editor for their content.
One of McAlister's suggestions is also one of my long-time personal favorites which employs reading your content out loud. It's an effective method of catching all sorts of grammar and punctuation mistakes. It's also a great way to ensure your writing accurately reflects how you want the wording to be said, if it's an actual conversation, or thought, of a character.
I'll use myself for an example.
If a writer wrote me as a character, and gave my character a line that went like this ...
Angelia turned to her friend and said, "I am leaving to go to the store soon. Do you still want to go with me?"
The writer just crashed. I would never relay that information in that fashion.
If it were written like this, it'd be correct ...
Angelia turned to her friend and said, "I'm leaving for the shop pretty soon. You still coming with?" or "You still wanna come with?" or "You gonna come with?"
See? Big difference.
That's one example of the myriad of tools found in this little book. The author kept it simple and gives easily-understood examples of when and where to employ the various strategies to help you produce squeaky-clean content, or as close to it as you can get.
Her chapters aren't huge, they're all measured out in just the right size to keep you from being overwhelmed and getting lost in the content and the sections/chapters are well marked so you can find them when you need them quickly without wasting time reading through what you're not specifically looking for help with.
Most of us aren't perfect and I still miss things in my own content. But, even after studying under some brilliant writers and teachers, I still found some very useful tips in this book, that are worth using even if you have an editor.
As Dr. Jim Loving used to teach, "There's no such thing as too much editing or too many re-writes."
One of several ...
You can click either of the book's pics to check it out for yourself on amazon.com. After you read it please go back and leave the author some gold stars and a short review, even if it's a tiny one.
This is just one of several books on writing by Marg McAlister. If you get to any of her other ones before I do, please give me a heads-up on how you liked them. I'm interested in her other books too, but have such a long list of reads and reviews that it'll be a while before I can get to the rest of her writings.
Thanks much for the visit today and I hope you've found this helpful!
If you came across any errors, please let me know. I promise I'll come back and fix it and will be happy you caught it!
God bless, thank you for the read and please don't forget to thank a veteran at your next opportunity!
See ya back on Thursday at femme's Desk and wishing you a beautiful week!
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