As professional book editors, we work with a wide variety of materials. We see everything from archaeology research papers to zombie love stories, depending upon our editing specialty. Despite the extreme differences between these two genres, every author’s work of English can benefit from the following five essential tips for writing.
Writing Tip #1 Avoid Wordiness
The primary goal in any piece of writing is to pass information on to your reader in the most digestible way possible. The fewer words you can use to describe the same thing, the better.
I’m not suggesting that you use vague language. On the contrary; there are often common words you can use to get your point across in a much simpler way.
Keep your writing uncomplicated. Write in active tense when possible. Be specific in your descriptions. Be consistent in your writing manner.
Writing Tip #2 Use Complete Thoughts
It is not uncommon for people to speak in sentence fragments in real life. However, in writing you should always strive to use complete sentences. This tip is very important for writing a book.
Many authors try to use short pieces to add emphasis. While this is okay occasionally, frequent use of fragments leaves the reader confused.
Write in complete thoughts with complete sentences. Have an active subject, verb, and object. Limit incomplete thoughts to the designated dialogue.
Use consistent writing techniques throughout your manuscript.
Writing Tip #3 Don’t Rely on Grammar Check
Unless you understand why your grammar check is suggesting a change, don’t just accept the suggestion.
Never assume that your word processor knows what you’re trying to say. Some documents we edit contain errors that almost certainly didn’t exist before the author used grammar check.
If you are unsure if you should make the change, ask your editor.
Make changes based only on grammar, spelling, and punctuation rules. If you don’t know the syntax, leave it. Ask a professional when you start line editing.
Writing Tip #4 Take a Break from Your Project
Rereading a paragraph immediately after writing it, you’re likely to miss even the most obvious of mistakes. If you want to review your work, take a break before diving back in and making improvements.
There are many steps to self-editing. It is a process of time and dedication. Learn how to self-edit and master your skills as an author. Over time, you will edit easily, naturally, and subconsciously.
Writing Tip #5 Only Use One Form of Emphasis
Too often, we see documents where the author tries to use too many forms of emphasis. In the same sentence I’ll see underlined words, italicized words, bold words, and even words in all caps.
Again, be consistent in your writing method.
Stick to one form of emphasis. Italics are the favorite of most editors and publishers.
Remember, in editing and writing, consistency is often close to godliness.
You are writing for your readers. It is important that you create comfort and simplicity in your words. By doing so, you will engage your audience for many books to come.
These writing tips are essential for beginners to bestsellers to experienced researchers.
We see many mistakes. These five tips and tricks will get you started with strong self-editing skills. By following these pieces of advice, you can reduce errors and improve the quality of your work.
Learn the Rules for Consistency in Writing Projects.