Write down your outline. This will make it easier to develop topic sentences and to arrange your paragraphs in the most effective order. Write the brief outline, then list topic sentences for each of the paragraphs or sections of, say, your thesis or article.
Parallel construction: Sound boring? Well, if you don’t take heed of parallel construction, your writing Parallel structure means using the same pattern of words to show that two or more ideas have the same level of importance. For example, here’s what you should avoid: ‘Dr Duffy lectured, was shouting and waved his arms.’ Here’s the same information, but using parallel construction: ‘Dr Duffy lectured, shouted and waved his arms.’ That is so much more powerful.
IT/Business Journos: Does this sound familiar? “My organisation believes in three-dimensional third-generation projections.” Or ” The consultants recommend remote transitional flexibility”. Avoid the jargon and the buzzwords. They confuse the reader and often render your piece of communication useless. Just for fun, can anyone translate these sentences into Plain English?
Some simple writing tips from Em & En Word Craft:
• For journalists, articles should follow the ‘inverted pyramid’ structure: begin with the most important parts of your story – the who, what, where, why, when and how – followed by the details to flesh out this summary. Conclude with a broader context or background information.
• Use inclusive language. Be mindful of using gendered terms or any words that exclude groups of people.
• If you can express a point in fewer words, go for the shorter version. It carries more of a punch.
• Use active case, not passive unless you have to.
Comma Talks from the Working Pilgrim:
“The term “Oxford comma” refers to the Oxford University Press, whose house style is to use the serial comma. (The public-relations department at Oxford doesn’t insist on it, however. Presumably P.R. people see it as a waste of time and space. The serial comma is a pawn in the war between town and gown.) To call it the Oxford comma gives it a bit of class, a little snob appeal. Chances are that if you use the Oxford comma you brush the crumbs off your shirtfront before going out.” For more from this entertaining article, please visit http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/02/23/holy-writ – The Comma Queen.
A new book called ‘Expatland’ (trademarked) is on the horizon soon. I have been working with the writer, John Marcarian, founder of CST Tax Advisors, for some months. It is the perfect book for expats or would-be expats, outlining everything you need to know about making the big move to work overseas. I’ll keep you posted when it’s available.
Writing is a craft that requires concentration, regular practice and plain determination. Even if you don’t feel like the Muse is speaking to you today, flex your mental muscles, tell your mind to shut up with its negative talk – and write at least a page. That way, you will learn the art of self-discipline and you’ll be surprised how a good writing habit is formed.
Structural editing assesses the manuscript as a whole and checks that the content, structure, language and presentation meet the publication’s purpose and readers’ expectations. At this stage, restructuring and rewording may be carried out to aid accessibility, clarity, style and tone, and to tighten the reader’s focus.
A structural edit might find inconsistencies in characterisation, holes in a plot, errors of logic, structural problems, or the like, so may contain substantial changes. For this reason, please ask your editor to use track changes in Word to you can see what has been edited and whether you agree with those changes or not.
As you can imagine, this may be a lengthy process, particularly if the editor identifies flaws that require you to rewrite sections.
It’s important to understand the boundary between author and editor here: in most instances, it is not the editor’s job to actually do the rewriting. It’s your manuscript, so unless you have agreed that the editor will take a strong writing role, that work comes back to you.
More Publishing Tips
THE EDITOR IS NOT THE ENEMY
An editor’s job is to prepare a manuscript for publication and ensure that its style and the level of its language suits the intended readership. A good editor is always careful to retain the author’s voice. They may improve it, but they don’t mutate it.
There are three parts to the editing process. A comprehensive editing service includes all three processes. These are structural editing; copyediting; and proofreading. Over the next few days I will talk about structural editing. Watch this space …
DIALOGUE IS THE DEVIL (Writing tips continued)
Some say the ‘devil is in the detail’. I say, ‘dialogue IS the devil’.
Dialogue needs to flow naturally. When dialogue is working well, you no longer feel that these are unreal characters using words that the author has made up. You feel that these are real people. A great idea to get a true feeling for how people really speak is take a long train ride or sit in a café and do some eavesdropping! Listen to the people around you.
And especially don’t be afraid of using contractions such as ‘I didn’t’ as opposed to ‘I did not’ – or ‘I will be going to the shop to purchase some bread’ instead of ‘I’m going to the shop for some bread’. After all, your characters are real to you and they should also be real people for your readers as well.