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
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.