Post by Blog Manager Robbi Hess
When you sit down to write a blog post or an email or even your website copy do you just let your thoughts flow and then hit “publish”? Do you cross your fingers and hope for the best that there are no glaring mistakes? I am hoping you didn’t say that’s what you did!
In order to be taken seriously as a professional, no matter your field of expertise, you need to put your best words forward. I wish it weren’t true, but if I see a mistake on a website (regardless of the profession) I subconsciously doubt the validity of the other information that follows. Now I am not saying my prose is always perfect and I have been known to make a typo or two — no matter how much I edit my text — but if I spot it (or if it’s pointed out to me) I go back and fix it.
Here, though, are some great self-editing tips you may want to employ before you hit publish next:
- Lose the adverbs. Stephen King in his On Writing book said the path to hell is paved with adverbs. If you use an adverb, ie. “she talked softly” you can change to a more powerful sentence by saying, “she whispered.” Viola, problem solved.
- Stay in the same “voice” and use the same pronouns. If you start your prose as writing in the “you” then stick with that. If you decide to write in the “we” again remain consistent.
- Look for long sentences and cut them into shorter ones.
- Lose the “very-s” and the “really-s.” They are weak and usually unnecessary words.
- Remember that people are “who.” For example, “Susie is a business owner “who” works with clients,” not, “Susie is a business owner that works with clients.” Make sure when you write a pronoun you are modifying the correct one.
- Know your weak spots. Do you have trouble differentiating a there, from a their, from a they’re? If so, ask a trusted colleague to give your prose the once over before you send it out into the world.
- Replace negative with positive. For example, “Five ways to make bad prose better,” could be “Five ways to make your prose shine.” Rather than saying, “I had an awfully good day,” simply say, “It was a great day.” The word “awfully” even though it’s modifying another word has the power to take the sentiment from a positive to a negative.
What are your grammar weak points? How do you edit your work?