Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Making a List and Checking It Twice


Posted by Linda

Most writing books tell the author to set their work aside for an hour, a day, a week, or whatever time the author deems necessary before rewriting. Do you have a self-editing checklist? Here are some suggestions from Jacobi's book on article writing.

CHECK YOUR FACTS - TWICE. Have you checked your facts? Try to have two sources which agree on a fact before using it. If they don't agree, seek another source until you have two to substantiate what you say.

ENGAGE A READER. Choose someone you trust to read your manuscript for errors/typos. Here is where a good critique group or writing partner is a must. And, sometimes errors still get through.

CHOOSE WORDS WISELY. Have you used short words that keep the flow moving or longer ones which stop the reader? Read the manuscript out loud to yourself or to a recorder and then listen. Did you stumble over words or punctuation?

KEEP THE READER IN MIND. Have you written to your target audience? Is the vocabulary age appropriate? Be aware of thesaurusitis. Often your original word says it best. Are your sentences the proper length? Do you have exceptionally long sentences that confuse the reader?

BE CONCISE. Have you said what you want in as few words as possible? George Bernard Shaw said it best, "I'm sorry to have written such a long letter, but I didn't have time to write a shorter one." It is not easy to be concise.

MAKE YOUR WRITING FLOW. Do you have the transitions which keep the article flowing rather than jumping from idea to idea? Does the article progress logically?

BE COMPLETE. Have you answered the questions your reader might ask? Check the who, what, where, when, why, and how of the article.

BE CONSISTENT. Does your opening paragraph set the tone of your article? Is your article factual, anecdotal, statistical, or humorous? Make sure the tone remains throughout the article.

 BE SPECIFIC. Have you avoided abstractions? Do you paint word pictures a reader can see and experience?

BE CONVERSATIONAL. Has your writing the sound of conversation? Is it comfortable reading? Will the reader think you are credible? Again, read the manuscript out loud.

These are but a few checks to make before submitting your article. Make your own list and check it twice. Then, cut the apron strings and submit the article.

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