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29.7.15

The hidden hand behind my writing

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By Kath Walters

Behind everything I write is a hidden hand – that of my editor, Jaclyn McRae. Everything I write, I send to Jac before I unleash it on the world. Why? Because distributing content with mistakes – even small ones – damages my brand.

The editor (also called subeditor or copyeditor) is every content marketer’s friend. She will proofread your content for spelling mistakes and grammatical errors, question any words or phrases that don’t make sense, and even check the basic facts.

As my first reader, it’s her job to challenge me if I am not making sense.

Jac loves editing. Early on, as a journalist on a country paper, she and her fellow journos edited each other’s work. While worksmithing is fun for her, Jac feels a special thrill when editing.

“I love reading,” she says. “I especially love the idea of reading for a job, and I like being able to help out in a story. The best editing is when a writer doesn’t even know the editor has been involved. It might be filling in a gap in the story, rearranging the order of things to achieve a better flow, fixing the spelling of a person’s name or adding a relevant link to a statistic or piece of research.”

If you haven’t got an editor working with you on blogging and content marketing, you are putting your brand at risk. You are also missing out on reaching your full potential as a writer.

I asked Jac to reveal some of the principles that guide her day-to-day work. Here’s the inside story:

Switch

Make your writing as punchy as possible by switching to active voice. Passive voice is usually characterised by ‘ing’ words: “Savvy business owners ought to be asking themselves the question..”  For shorter, sharper sentences, switch to “Savvy business owners must ask …”

Capture

Quickly capture people’s attention with a great heading and opening. Not sure how to start? Imagine you’re gossiping with friends. How would you quickly explain the topic to get their attention?

Detangle

Readers’ eyes glaze over when they see jargon. Use plain English and don’t get tangled up in mundane details. If a quote is boring, paraphrase it (accurately!)

Catch

It’s hard to proofread our own work – even as a subeditor or long-time writer – because our eyes tend to see what we intended to write, rather than what we did write. Before publishing a blog post or LinkedIn article, get someone to read it first. A fresh set of eyes will catch mistakes before a wider audience sees it.

Delete

Here’s a list of words you can probably delete – they rarely add anything to a story:

·      a number of (instead, say how many)

·      both

·      very (taking it out won’t change the meaning of your sentence)

·      actually

·      currently

·      in my opinion (it’s an opinion piece!)

 

Thanks, Jac!

 

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