Monthly Archives: March 2011

Editing: It’s not just for Journalists anymore

After all the hub-bub over author Jacqueline Howett’s self published novel, a more important discussion is now taking form.  Finally, people are starting to talk about the importance of good grammar and editing.

This could be a turning point for online communication. The renaissance of the written word for the common person started with email, moved to chat rooms and discussion boards and then transformed into Social Media that is broadcast across the world.  As these changes took form, online writers began to understand the importance of punctuation, spelling, word choice and syntax.

Because we are now a nation online, we are consequently a nation of writers.  But many of us, myself included, may have missed

This exchange was enough to make me proud to be a mom!

some of the basic rules of grammar in high school. I freely admit I didn’t know the difference between their and there until college. But, I learned. We are all at least capable of that.

I now write almost every day, if not for this blog, for Default World or Patch. I work alone mostly, and only have the benefit of an editor for those items that I am paid for. Because of this, I have developed a method that I use to avoid online publishing blunders.

This is what I do:

Write – I usually have an idea of what I want to write before I begin. Sometimes I make an outline or at least jot down a key message I want to be sure to convey.

Rewrite – Almost every sentence I write is rewritten in some form, be it word choice, a punctuation change, or syntax.  Sometimes my sentences get away from me and must be pared back. Seldom does a sentence come out perfect the first time.

Edit – The first edit is done when I finish a page or a thought. I edit while still working within the word processing software, making changes I come across as I read through a piece the first time.

Read – After the first edit, I read the piece from start to finish, preferably in a Preview screen. This allows me to see the piece as the reader would see it online. I read for clarity, syntax, punctuation and grammar. Writing down problem areas on a note pad is always helpful.

Re-Edit – Going back into the word processor I make changes from my notes.

Re-Read – Again in the preview setting, when writing for online.  If I’m not writing for online purposes, the Read and Re-Read would be done from a print out.  This also helps judge the length of a piece. When writing for online I try not to exceed 500 words. (Oops!)

Re-Edit Again – As needed. I also usually add links at this point.

Walk Away – I’ve learned that this is the best thing I can do.  I get up and walk away from the piece, even if it is only for a few minutes.

Re-Read Again – Looking for more changes, there are always more changes.

Publish – With the understanding that I will likely need to go back into the piece after I have published to make one or two more final adjustments.

 

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Filed under Journalism, Social Media

Like it or not, the Internet is a Public Place

Public tantrums are never a good idea.

I’ve said it before: we live our lives online. It’s where we shop, where we meet people, where we get our information, and where we entertain ourselves.

The thing about the internet is that information spreads fast, thus the term viral.  Interesting tidbits of news or information goes person to person with lightning speed.  Sometimes it only takes one Tweet from the right person and suddenly, millions of people are exposed to the same information all at once. This is what fuels revolutions, starts trends, and sometimes makes people infamous. This is now sadly the case for one self-published writer who had a very public meltdown via blog comment.

First allow me to say, as one who writes I have nothing but respect for anyone who is willing to put themselves out there. Writing is a craft, that sometimes requires you to bear your very soul. It can be arduous and daunting and very lonely at times. So it’s understandable, at least to me, if some writers seem socially awkward in real life. I get it. As a writer, I can say that sometimes I’m just more comfortable in my own head.

Author Jacqueline Howett wrote what she called a novella. Her book was reviewed by BigAls Books and Pals, a blog site that reviews books published on Kindle.

From the standpoint of one who did not read the book, BigAl wrote what seemed like a fair review. He praised the story line, but also stated that the book was difficult to read. BigAl wrote, “One reason is the spelling and grammar errors, which come so quickly that, especially in the first several chapters, it’s difficult to get into the book without being jarred back to reality as you attempt unraveling what the author meant.”

The writer then proceeded to have a very public tantrum in the comments section of the blog. Her multiple responses were atrocious and at times outright nasty.  Her culminating response to BigAl and others who joined in on the fray was “Fuck Off!”  Needless to say, the blog very quickly went viral via Twitter, Facebook, and message boards.  By the time I got it, it was billed as, “How not to act when publishing your book online.”

It can be hard to remember that the internet is such a public place, especially when you are participating from a seemingly private place, like on a laptop while still laying in bed. It can be even harder to segregate your professional life from your private life online.  If you are not paying close attention to such things, a potential employer or client may find that picture of you naked and painted purple straddling a giant bunny at Burning Man, or worse.

So I present this to you as a cautionary tale.  Remember, your behavior and your life online are out there for everyone to see.

 

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Filed under People, Social Media

Too much of a Good Thing – Social Media Scams

Be Clever When you Click

So, we’ve all established that Social Media is the new MO online.  Thus it should be no surprise that scams and spam would follow their intended victims like parasites.  They know where to get a free meal. But now that meal is not just an appeal from a little known prince overseas that has 20 gold bars he would like you to receive for him. Often what these spammers and scammers are after is your data and the data of everyone you are connected with.  Which leads one to wonder, can Social Media be too much of a good thing?

What makes Social Media great is that it connects us with multiple people all the time.  It’s no longer necessary to create a newsletter of updates sent out with hokey pictures for the holidays. Your people can know what you are up to all the time if you let them. We share photos, likes, information and play together on farms, in organized crime and at games of skill.

But every one of those activities yields information about you, who you know, and what appeals to you.  It’s kind of a marketing gold mine.  Some social media platforms, like FourSquare are specifically designed to capture your consumer habits, and most applications will tell you what they are after when you download, be it your location, your web browsing or the information of everyone you are connected with on a given platform.

Spammers and Scammers though are more nefarious. According to one IT friend they are after “one of two things:  attempting to get you to their site so you will buy that penis enlargement system, or get you to click on a malicious link so that they can get into your computer, or get your banking details, or steal your identity, or make your computer a slave for hacking purposes.”  Yikes!

The advent of clicking links to open up a new window of something new and interesting,  has turned us into instant gratification junkies. Scammers and Spammers are counting on that. So just as we were once advised to look before you leap, we should now be clever when we click.

Mashable put out a good article about avoiding scams on Facebook recently which is now on my DIY list (up and to your right).  It’s worth the read and worth passing along.  Of course first I have to convince you to click this link to get to the article. BWA HA HA HA HA!

 

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