Tag: newsletters

How to Edit Your Own Writing. Getting Back to Basics.

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These tips are for anyone interesting in creating quality content for books, blogs, ebooks, newsletters, ezines, and even daily email correspondence.  Getting back to the basics is a great way to tackle a process that appears overwhelming or mystifying.

So What: You might have a pretty good idea why you are writing a book, ebook, newsletter, etc., but are you sure you know why someone should read it?  What are your take-aways?  What do you hope the reader would learn?  How can it or will it make a difference in their lives?

Theme Party: You have already determined why someone should read your content therefore you are half way there.  You have a theme.  You have a driving force for continuity, but are you continuously making the connection, threading that theme throughout the product?  It may seem obvious to you that each step, tool, story or strategy is related to the overall premise, but make sure you take the time to reinforce it with clarity.  But let’s be clear:  Continuity does not mean redundancy.  Threading is not the same as repeating.  There is the old adage of “Tell them what you are going to tell them.  Tell them.  Then tell them what you’ve told them.”  Yes, this is true, just don’t hammer it into your reader or they will perceive this, and you, as not respecting their intelligence.

Too Much Good Stuff:
I often have clients come to me when they have been told by a publisher that they need to cut their word count by 25-30%.  Their expressions range from “But I don’t want to cut any of the stories or tools” or “I keep rereading it and I don’t see how I can cut anything.”

For most of us, being told that our work needs tightening is a bit ambiguous.  It is easier for a publisher to say, and an author to hear, “you need to cut 2,000 words”. The end result, when done correctly, is the same. By looking for effective ways to cut word count, the writing becomes tighter and the manuscript reads better.  You will find redundancy in your message and extraneous words that may be part of your day-to-day diction but have no real place or purpose in your manuscript. The thesaurus feature is a great tool for eliminating the redundancy of your most popular word choices.  (See previous blog post, The Best Concise Writing Tip I Ever Learned for more details.)

My Two Tense Worth: Are you telling a story in the past or present tense?  Pick one and go back through your writing to make sure it all matches.  For instance, do you write, “we were expected to have our PowerPoint presentation available be at the event so I write the last few slides, I upload the graphics and I will send it off to my assistant to print and bind the hard copies.”  Can you see how the beginning was in the past tense of “we were expected” and then suddenly all of the verbs that follow are in the present tense “write, upload, send.”  It is very easy to slip back and forth when you verbally tell a story, but you have to be very careful when you put pen to paper.

Step away from the screen, there is nothing to see here, folks: Ever go back to an important email you sent or a blog you posted and find a mistake?  You have no idea how you could have missed it.  Simple, it is your work and your brain sees what it means, not necessarily what is on the screen.  You may have forgotten the “it”, “do”, or used the wrong “their/there”, etc. and each time you initially reread it before you hit Send or Publish you could have sworn it was there.  Save it and walk away for an hour or even a day.  Fresh eyes are a key to making the obvious, well, more obvious.

Double Vision: You may think it is a masterpiece, it is exactly what you intended to say or wonder how there could ever be anything left to improve upon.  Nice thought, but reach out to your network, your colleagues and a professional trained to make improvements.  This second set of eyes is priceless but you need to remember to check your ego at the door.  Nothing can zap your self-confidence more than the colored evidence of Track Changes splattered all over your precious work of art.  Remember that you asked for suggestions and improvements and the result is your reader’s professional and sometimes personal opinion of what will make it better.  Take what you want and leave the rest.

There is a lot to be gained by refining your writing abilities.  Just as you are considered articulate based on your strong vocabulary,  so will you hold expert status by others based on your clear, concise and well-written products.