When editing …

Editing is an essential part of any writing job – it is entirely natural to require more than two drafts.  Who gets a piece of writing right first time?  So here are 5 general tips to guide you in your editing. 1.) Give editing sufficient time I often say to people that they should expect editing to take 20–30% of the total time they take to write something.  Why so much?  Because we don’t get the words out right first time, we...

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Writing is like PAINTING

  When preparing a few things to say for a talk recently, I realised that writers need to be able to switch from reviewing an overall document to checking its micro details – and to be good at both. Then I realised it was a quality also needed by painters … and then I realised there are a few other parallels between writers and painters, such as being willing to experiment, having perseverance, etc.  And THEN … guess what; I...

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When editing …

Give editing sufficient time I often say to people that they should expect editing to take 20–30% of the total time they take to write something.  Why so much?  Because we don’t get the words out right first time, we think of better ways to say things, we forget about what a reader most wants to know, etc.  So, don’t interpret editing as ‘I’m no good at writing’; instead, think of it as a normal and necessary...

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Writing Skills Quiz – with Answers

Do you think it is OK to start sentences with “And …..”? Yes.  However, many of us were taught not to, I think for two reasons.  First, because ‘and’ is a conjunction, and our teachers were also telling us conjunctions were for joining phrases together, so allowing them at the start of sentences would have been contradictory. Second, language has become less formal since most of us were at school, and starting sentences...

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Split infinitives – Can you? Can’t you?

“Never split an infinitive!” Heard that rule? That’s right, it’s commonly said that we shouldn’t split infinitives (e.g. to boldly go).  The reason being, in Latin – the foundation of our culture and language several centuries ago – infinitives are only one word (to go = Latin Ire), so you physically can’t put a word in-between. HOWEVER, I have just been reading a more authoritative book on the...

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Colons and semi-colons – Know the difference

If you are unsure about when to use colons and semi-colons, you are not alone.  In fact, getting colons and semi-colons muddled is one of the commonest mistakes I encounter when editing books.   Yes, the two are similar – both occur midway through a sentence – but they should be used in very different places. Here are my simple rules to guide you… Colons main useage – Where you want to explain or give an example of something you have just...

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