Get Your Writing Fighting Fit
By MaryAnn Shank
Systemize! Strip it down! Eliminate! Accentuate!
It sounds like a college cheer. Rah! Rah! Rah-Rah-Rah!
Actually, it's a lot more than a college cheer. It is the way professional editors polish writing. Even Asimov and Hemmingway had editors. In fact, without their editors, they wouldn't be the acclaimed writers that they are.
I wouldn't presume to be a polished writer myself, but I know that I see so much lousy writing on the web that I wish everyone had Audrey Owen at their elbow, forcing them to write better.
Although we can't all capture Audrey's time, we can review the editing techniques that she so generously shares with us in "Get Your Writing Fighting Fit". In eleven snappy chapters she takes us from sloppy to sublime. It's part of her editing philosophy to keep it snappy: "Lean, mean writing keeps your readers keen" (p.6).
First Audrey examines the elements that editors look for when they do their editing task. Things like words, sentences, paragraphs and chapters - all the good, the bad and the truly ugly.
Then she shares her seven step Quick Assessment Process. Here is how you and I can create writing that flows with a zing. We are to take only two pages of our project, and we set a timer to limit us. Then, with a swirl of circles and X's, looking for very specific items, our writing emerges with strength and vitality. And it's all done in a matter of a few minutes.
For instance, one of her steps to writing success is to read just the first sentence of each paragraph. Reading just that much, does the writing convey the general idea? It should. The first sentence is that important. If it does not, that is an area of your writing that needs attention.
One of Audrey's editing techniques is to give variety to sentence and paragraph length and structure. Mix it up, she calls it.
This is a great editing system. It is clear, direct, fast, and very doable for most writers.
Keep in mind that "editing" is not "writing". "Editing" is what enhances our "writing". Before editing can do you a blimey bit of good, you need to start with solid writing. Your idea needs to be there, composed in reasonable sentences and paragraphs.
Then put your own writing through Audrey's great seven step editing process and Bingo! You've got a great piece of prose.
Pick up your copy of "Get Your Writing Fighting Fit" at http://www.writershelper.com/gywffsales.html. It's worth every penny of the $29.00 cost. And while you are at Audrey's website, take a look around. You'll discover slews of more great ideas too.
MaryAnn Shank has been writing for the business world for over 20 years. She is the force behind http://www.businessplanmaster.com and http://www.yournetworkmarketingcoach.com . As a business plan editor/reviewer, she has seen more awful writing than she cares to think about, and considers Audrey Owen's book and website a very welcome corner of the web world.
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