When was the last time you read a book you couldn’t put down? Did it heightened every emotion? It probably created offered detailed imagery so that you were transported another place and time. How is a capable author able to captivate followers through even the longest of novels? It’s all in great writing, and even better editing.
How can you incorporate visual writing into your prose? Start with a flashback to your freshman English class- nouns, subject-verb agreement, adjectives, and adverbs. The basic writing tools are right there. But how do you take it to the next level?
Read. Reading opens your eyes to worlds where your body may never actually travel. It exposes you to experiences you might never live. Reading educates. And incorporating that education into your own writing can make you better.
Depending on your writing style and goals— business, blog, business blog, fashion magazine, traditional journalism—find someone you’d like to emulate and read their work. Follow great business writers and leaders on LinkedIn. Catch up on engaging bloggers on The Huffington Post. Read The New York Times cover to cover.
Once you’ve launched your learning and practiced your writing, go back over your work with a fine-toothed comb. Mastery of writing comes down to the nitty-gritty and micro-editing. What is micro-editing?
First, let’s look at the word macro. According to thefreedictionary.com, macro is “of great size; large.” In writing, “macro” refers to the big picture, the overall emotion and story that is being told. Micro, defined by the same source, is “very small or microscopic.” Yes, a fine-toothed comb, indeed.
Review each word in every sentence. What is necessary? Consider whether this word or that word adds to the overall article. Check your modifiers to see if they’re overused. Very and really can really get very annoying. Then, check your verbs. Review subject-verb agreement, especially after you make edits to other parts of your text. Can you use an active verb in place of a passive one? Active verbs are often shorter, to the point, and keep the reader more engaged.
The English language is perhaps one of the most challenging, even for native speakers. It’s filled with homographs and homophones. Need that freshman refresher course again? A homograph is a word that has the same spelling as another word, but a different sound and a different meaning, such as tear (like in crying or what you do to paper), wind (something that blows or something you to do your watch), and bass (a type of guitar or fish). A homophone is a word that has the same sound as another but is spelled differently and has a different meaning, such as your/you’re, to/two/too, and they’re/their/there.
Carefully review punctuation. Should you use a comma or semicolon? Include the Oxford comma or not (this one may be dictated by your client)? Get help from online sources such as The Punctuation Guide if you need a refresher course, or refer to the AP Style Guide or Chicago Manual of Style.
Make an effort to review your work down to the minute details. Read the book Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation, as inspiration. Micro-editing (or the lack of) drove author Lynne Truss to write an entire book about the grave condition of our grammatical state.
Continue your practice to become a great writer, because as Ernest Hemingway put it, “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” ~Joanne
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