Wednesday, April 6, 2016
E is for Editing
The internet is full of editors and proofreaders who can polish your prose and proof your resumes. And for high-stakes projects, it is great to be able to hire someone to help you out.
Most of us can't afford to hire someone to look over everything that we write. That means we have to develop a basic proficiency on our own, lest we be at a disadvantage in this ever competitive world we live in.
That's the bad news. The good news is that there are lots of things that you can do on your own to strengthen your editing and writing skills.
There are some wonderful grammar & style books that are also a lot of fun to read:
Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation, by Lynne Truss
The Deluxe Transitive Vampire, by Karen Elizabeth Gordon.
Sin & Syntax by Constance Hale
When You Catch an Adjective, Kill It, by Ben Yagoda
Woe is I by Patricia T. Connor
OK, not so fun, but the style bible for many is the Chicago Manual:
The Chicago Manual of Style
The Elements of Style by Strunk & White is also a classic.
These websites offer great tips:
English grammar 101
Mignon Fogarty is a grammar goddess. She just is. Check her out. You'll see.
Mignon also does podcasts for NPR-- learn more here:
Take a class
Classes can be expensive. If you need the structure, though, it might be worth investing in a writing class or two. Otherwise, if you are disciplined enough to do the lessons on your own, there are lots of free options:
Coursera is one of the giants of free online education. I've only linked the grammar class here, but they have other writing classes worth investigating, too.
Check out Khan Academy, Ted X & Stanford:
Other interesting links:
tuition free classes about grammar
And lastly, of course, not free but so affordable it might as well be--new classes begin every week at Writers' Village:
Join a writing group, or grab some friends and start your own. There are lots of groups online, just do a Google search and you'll find many options. Give yourself time to find the right one. Sometimes it takes a little while to find the perfect fit, but it's worth it. We learn so much from critiquing others and being critiqued.
Bonus: you might find a fellow writer who is willing to occasionally read your high-stakes work in exchange for your help when they need it.
Developing editorial style
Editing is such a critical part of the writing experience, and yet, explaining the basics is like trying to tell someone how to write. There are many different ways to do it, some of them contradictory, and that's ok. You will develop your own style as you write, and your own editorial process.