Today we’re going to discuss keeping your writing fresh and flowing. I have edit thousands of documents and books over the years. I see common mistakes made by new writers and sometimes even seasoned experts, too. Here are some down-and-dirty tips to improve your writing whether it is for creative or business projects.
Grammar and punctuation varies based on style usage. Did you know several different stylebooks exist? Yes, several choices are available, including AP Style, Chicago Style, Strunk and White, and Masters of English Arts. Here is the rub. Different styles make it seem like some usage is wrong. For example, if you’re an AP Style users then Chicago Style has conflicting rules. Here is a breakdown of how the stylebooks apply:
AP Style – used by the mainstream media and press. AP Style came from the media outlet the Associated Press. You’ll find AP is used for newspaper and magazines articles as the basis of journalistic rules.
Chicago Style – generally used for technical documentation and workbooks. It has uses applied to things like charts, graphs and lists. It also uses commas differently. Some online content providers use it, too.
Strunk and White – taught mostly in higher education English classes as the basis for term papers and essays. Mostly students and academics to keep their work consistent use it.
Masters of Language Arts (MLA) – definitely an academic stylebook used for things like a thesis or books.
The insider tip: whatever stylebook choice you make, apply it consistently. Don’t change your mind halfway through a document and decide to apply a different style. The end result will be the “appearance” of mistakes. Consistency in writing plays an important part in keeping it clean. While someone may not agree with your style choice, if you’ve kept it consistent they cannot say you are wrong. If you choose to create a stylebook for your publication, which many books and magazines do, then keep it consistent. No one can argue with conscious choice to do something a particular way.
Redundancy is a problem for new writers. Redundant word choices and or saying the exact same thing you said two paragraphs earlier or even three sentences before. I am working on a manuscript right now for a new author who has a following established, which is why I accepted the book. The author’s weakness is restating either entire paragraphs or sentences over again. The restatement leads to an unorganized train of thought that doesn’t flow but repeats. Don’t restate more than once. Don’t use the same word over and over again. A Thesaurus should be handy at your desk at all times or use the one in the word processor.
Insider tip: the quickest way to find out how many times you’ve repeated a word? Use your Find tool and look for the word you’ve repeated. Every time it comes up, use the Thesaurus to find a new word choice.