Most people can write, but some don’t do it very well. That is why most people would also benefit from having an editor.
I often edit other people’s work. Most of the time, the writing is done by people whose primary job does not include writing. There are a few things I correct over and over. Here’s a list:
Wordiness. Using too many words when fewer will do. In grad school, a professor of mine had us remove ten words from every assignment. It’s a good exercise for everyone.
Long, complicated sentences. This is somewhat related to wordiness, but also shows that people are afraid of short, direct sentences.
Using I instead of me. I am not talking about a sentence like this one. People don’t seem to want to use the word me in constructions such as “that time works for John and me.” I am not sure why.
Subject-verb agreement. I hear it on the news all the time, and see it, often in long, complicated sentences. If your subject is singular, then your verb should be too. Not like this line from a pop song: “The color of her eyes were.” (In this case, the subject is the color, which is singular, therefore the verb should be was.)
Misusing words. Often, people think they know what a word means, but they really don’t. (I am working on compiling a list of these…)
Using jargon and/or big words. The more jargon you use, the more I think you don’t know what you are talking about. I also don’t think using the word utilize makes you seem smarter. Read this excellent article from Content Management on how to get rid of jargon.
I know most people can’t afford to get an editor. Heck, I don’t have an editor for this blog either. Next time you write something, look it over for the items above. If you are unsure, ask!
How to write your blog workshop
What are you doing on May 17? Why not sign up for my How to write your blog workshop? You will learn how to make your blog more effective, how to come up with blog post ideas and lots of other good stuff. Details and registration here.
About Deborah Brody
Deborah Brody writes and edits anything related to marketing communications. Most blog posts are written under the influence of caffeine.