When I first started writing regularly, I thought that I was pretty darned good. After all, I had consistently gotten A+ in English all through high school and university (back when dirt was young), people told me how well I wrote etc. I liked my writing style and didn’t think the transition to writing for professional markets would alter my work flow. Write it, fix spelling and grammar busts, publish.
Part of my plan to improve my writing has been to read a lot and write a lot. A lot of what I have been reading is about the craft of authorship. In every one of these books the authors stress the importance of editing. And I could agree with them. Many is the ebook I have read that has dumb spelling and grammar errors. I figured if I had that licked, I was on my way.
Then I discovered a book that changed my whole attitude towards editing my own work. “Editor-Proof Your Writing: 21 Steps to the Clear Prose Publishers and Agents Crave” by Don McNair ©2013. It is a short but powerful book that illustrates in 21 mini-workshops how to read and edit the most common amateur errors found in manuscripts (and some published work!)
The second epiphany I had was to test drive a website called AutoCrit (www.AutoCrit.com). It is an online editing software package that analyzes writing for the most common mistakes, most of them covered in Don McNair’s book. It also has some additional features that allow you to compare your style to the generally accepted style of your genre of choice. I tried the service and was so impressed, I have signed up for a year with the service.
What have I learned about my writing? I tend to use the passive voice more than I thought and have a tendency to tell instead of show. It was a humbling eye opener, but I was glad for the insight as I can now polish my work better and hopefully impress some editor somewhere.
So there you have it. Two resources that are relatively inexpensive and can improve the quality of your prose before you send it off to a professional editor.