This week:Edited by: Jessiebelle
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The problem with allowing the engineers who create a program also write its Help and Tutorials is that you get people who cannot write, writing Help for people who do not need help.
-- Mark Rector
This report, by its very length, defends itself against the risk of being read.
-- Winston Churchill
Take care that you never spell a word wrong. Always before you write a word, consider how it is spelled, and, if you do not remember, turn to a dictionary. It produces great praise to a lady to spell well.
-- Thomas Jefferson
Arguments over grammar and style are often as fierce as those over IBM versus Mac, and as fruitless as Coke versus Pepsi and boxers versus briefs.
-- Jack Lynch
Everywhere I go I'm asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don't stifle enough of them. There's many a best-seller that could have been prevented by a good teacher.
-- Flannery O'Conner
I must confess grammar is not my strong point. No matter how many times I have proofread my work I always manage to miss something. Can you suggest any tips or techniques that can help me?
Absolutely! Some of these will work better for you than others. No matter how many times I see the suggestion to “read the document backwards,” I can’t bring myself to do it. But it works very well for those who use this technique to spot spelling errors and typos, so I’m including it here. My favorite, though, is to use several passes - break your proofreading into purposeful tasks. Don’t try to check facts and mark punctuation errors in the same pass. It gets confusing and overwhelming, and you will tend to miss things.
As you write, do use the spelling and grammar checking tools in your word-processing software; however, be aware that the suggestions they give are not always correct. Have a good dictionary on hand to verify your spelling changes. If a grammatical error is flagged, a good grammar handbook will come in handy.
Take a break between writing and proofreading, if time allows.
It is generally easier to proofread from a hard copy than from a computer screen.
Proofread in a neat, clean workspace that is as free of distractions as possible.
Read the work out loud. We read silently faster than we can speak the words. Slowing down and reading aloud helps you to spot and hear the errors more readily.
Look for unnecessary phrases, redundancy, and word repetition. Slice words that aren’t doing their fair share of the work.
When marking the document, use a colored pen (doesn’t have to be red!). Try using proofreader’s marks. Be clear and specific about corrections, do not simply circle the errors or write “Wrong!” next to something that needs to be fixed.
If possible, get more than one person to proofread your work. Each reader has different strengths and each will find different errors.
Break down your proofreading tasks. Check your facts and make sure your writing is accurate and consistent. Next, proof the document for grammatical and stylistic errors. Finally, check for spelling, punctuation, and format errors.
Ironically, some of the easiest places to miss glaring errors are in titles and headings. Remember, too, that it is more difficult to spot errors in text that is formatted in all caps. Proofread these items very carefully.
Check table of contents, index, captions, figures, and tables separately. Follow each entry in the table of contents and index to be sure it goes to the right place. Do the same for any internal cross-references.
Check for proper use of trademarks and copyrighted material, if used. Check citation format, if copyrighted materials have been cited.
When proofing for spelling errors, try reading the document backwards. Looking at each word outside the context of a sentence, you may spot those mistakes more easily.
After corrections have been made, be sure to proof the revised document. First check to see that all the corrections were made, then read over the document one more time to make sure you didn't miss something during the previous round of edits.
These proofreading tips were adapted from the following resources, which contain additional information and suggestions:
Suggestions for spiritual renewal, enhancing creativity, and encouraging the Muse.
Point of View Exercise and Reader Stories
Good newsletter. I started a short story as the omnipotent third person, but as I went along, I tried a different approach. I changed to first person, and the entire story changed gears and turned out excellent. Not to say that this will happen every time. It just worked well this time. Thanks
For your animal perspective story, here's a prologue I've been sitting on for awhile and have recently started expanding on. Hope you like it.
Hi Jessie B. You asked for a story written from POV of a plant. How about a tree? It has a twist ending that makes most readers comment about our environment. Let me know what ya think. Thanks. Daddydo-wop. PS Your newsletters always an informative good read. Thanks for doing it.
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Thanks for plugging the Up for Discussion forum in this newsletter. We all really appreciate it, especially since I'm not too sure how helpful your own experience with us turned out to be. Hopefully, as we get more practice with this, the forum will become a unique resource for all different kinds of writer's needs. Thanks so much for the plug!!
It can take a while to get something like this off the ground, but it’s a good idea. I hope things are picking up for you!
DB Cooper wrote:
I really enjoyed the article about search engines but sometimes Google scholar is actually better than Pub-Med. I tried them.
Oh, yes - thanks - a relatively new player in the field, Google Scholar can be a very good resource. To give it a try, click http://scholar.google.com/schhp?hl=en&tab=ws&q=
Thank you so much for this newsletter! One of the nicest reviews (and honest, I'm afraid) I got, complained about my POV, and now, I might actually know what they were talking about!
Oh, what’s this “honest, I’m afraid” nonsense? I know you - you appreciate honesty, or you’d be cursing my name by now. I’m glad my editorial on POV helped. It’s a tough thing to master. It’s like Backgammon - an easy game to learn, but it takes years to master the strategy.
Thanx for clearing up first, second and third person narratives for us, I kinda knew, but wasn't entirely sure about 2nd. It's really hard and only really works in short pieces I think, but it can be very interesting and effective, draws the reader in and all that.
Second-person POV is common in the old text-based adventure games. It does give a sense of immediacy, and attempts to draw the reader into the story by making him a character in it. Unfortunately, it can backfire; I tend to read these things with skepticism, and if they assume too much about what I’m thinking, feeling, or am likely to do next, I can be easily turned off and alienated. I agree that it works best in shorter pieces; there are very few good examples of novel-length fiction written in second person POV.
User Guides often employ it, though. It’s more friendly and direct. There, you use the imperative: “Open the case.” “Press the Ctrl key.” Yeah, I’m talking to YOU - the one reading this manual. The risk is in sounding too demanding, but it’s a big improvement over weird, convoluted, or passive constructions like: “The user must then open the case.” Or “The user is instructed to press the Ctrl key.” Or “The user opens the case.” (Yeah, sure he does - and he knows to do this HOW?)
In short, choose the POV that works best for your purposes and your audience. It’s always a good idea to practice writing in different POVs, so you can handle them comfortably as the need arises - or at least appreciate the difficulty of certain types of writing.
Your example of 2nd person POV was very masterfully done... I have to applaud you! *cheers*
This information of POV's was extremely helpful... However, you didn't mention that sometimes headhopping is usful in a story, but to a limited extent. Instead of doing it spontaneiously several times within a chapter (i think this was what you meant) to do it varying from chapter to chapter... There are exeptions to every rule. For an example, see 'The Bartimaeous Trilogy', which goes from 1st person on Bartimaeous's part, to 3rd person limited in Nathanial and Kitty across several chapters. Overall it makes for a delightful read and is very masterfully handled.
But this was a great newletter and touched on a subject that you very rarely find...
As you point out, there are exceptions to every rule. I didn’t suggest how to employ head-hopping effectively, because although it’s usually more effective when there are chapter breaks between the various characters’ shifting viewpoints, it can be done other ways. Sometimes it’s best for writers to experiment - to risk falling flat on their fannies, if you will - than to try to offer formulas for effective rule-breaking. I agree, though; the most effective head-hopping usually occurs between chapters. Sometimes each main character narrates the same story in first-person POV, offering a very different perspective on events. That’s often quite entertaining, too.
The Ragpicker - 8 yo relic wrote:
When used effectively, there's nothing like the second person POV. Fight Club would never be the book it is if it didn't use second person.
Great news letter Jessie when I write my stories they help me in finding my grammar mistakes and run on sentences. Write On! I get alot of reviews that way.
I’m so glad you find the newsletter helpful!
jaya h wrote:
Very informative newsletter! I enjoyed reading it and thinking of participating in one of the contests.
The Critic wrote:
Yes, just so you'll know that I'm reading your newsletter:
In the story example under second person, you wrote:
You grudgingly get out of bad.
“bad” should be "bed"
Lovin' it. Thank you.
Hahaha…okay, you got me! My bed--er, my bad. I rely on you and a few others to keep me humble and dancing on my toes.
Thank you for this piece on style books. Indeed, some of those burly things can be incredibly dry, so it is nice to see a few books that are a bit more on the "teaching is fun" side of the spectrum.
Tigger thinks of Prancer wrote:
What an information-rich newsletter your brought to me - thanks!!
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