The Importance of Brevity (In Exactly 500 Words)

As a writer, it will probably be my life-long struggle to pare down my words and get to the points that really matter. Even in fiction, there’s a line you shouldn’t cross when it comes to the overuse of details. It’s more obvious in non-fiction, especially in journalism-type writings. No matter what the communication avenue, brevity plays a key role in successfully conveying a message.

“Good things, when short, are twice as good.”
—Gracián

As an editor, a key component of my services to my clients includes helping them to develop their projects while getting rid of the chaff. We’re not in high school anymore, so we shouldn’t write bullsh**. If we do, our credibility is apt to go down the toilet. With so much quality content just a Google search away, it is crucial to be clear and concise with our words.

Even editors need editors. My first novel, with notes from my editor. Which is also what I do for my clients.

Even editors need editors. My first novel, with notes from my editor. Which is also what I do for my clients.

Here are 5 simple rules to follow when constructing a communication piece:

  • Write it ALL (Similar to “free writing,” write with abandon, and get all your thoughts out of your brain.)
  • Re-read it while doing a simultaneous edit, at least 3xs (This is where you begin to make sense of everything and weed out the garbage.)
  • Read it aloud (Reading to yourself is one thing; hearing it spoken is a whole different bear.)
  • Ask someone to look over it (If it’s an important piece, another eye is always good. If that’s not an option for you, however, just go over it one more time by yourself; you’ll be surprised to find that it still needs tweaking.)
  • Send it, publish it, deliver it (Release your baby into the world!)

Sometimes, it’s necessary to write something not so brief. However, most of us are guilty of adding in too much fluff. Maybe it’s a culture thing, maybe it’s how we’ve been taught. Either way, in my personal and professional experience, the more clear our communication is, the more beneficial it is.

And, a well-expressed piece of communication is just damn good.

Try the above “rules” when you construct your next e-mail or blog post. You don’t have to be a professional writer; you simply need to take a few extra minutes to do some rewriting and self-editing. The more you practice, the more effective you’ll be with writing and communicating. You can become a better communicator if you put some effort into it.

“Omit needless words. Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts.”
—William Strunk, Jr.

Do YOU have tips to share about the importance of brevity? Leave a comment!

Click HERE to read an article from WebAIM about writing clearly and simply.

Looking for an editor? Contact me TODAY and get a free quote! Let’s work together.

5 Reasons Why You Should Hire A Professional Editor

So you got straight A’s in English class in high school, and passed English 1A in college. Now, you’ve written something—maybe a novel, an article, or even copy for a website. You think you’re pretty good at writing, so you’re probably a pretty good editor too, right? WRONG.

Contrary to popular belief, it is essential to hire a professional editor for many reasons, especially if you plan on making your work public. And no, your wife, your smart kid, and your best friend don’t make the cut as professional editors (unless, of course, they have the proper training). Also, Microsoft Word is not the final authority for the written word; though, using spell and grammar check does help a ton.

I’ve had my business for a few years now, but I’ve been editing for many, many years. And the more I work with my clients, the more I see the same mistakes over and over again. If I had a dollar for every time a client told me, “Well, I had so-and-so look over my manuscript, and they’ve been editing for a while, and they think my work is pretty good,” I’d be a very rich lady.

Even I have a professional editor who looks over my big stuff. It’s very important to present the best of yourself, and if you feel otherwise, you have no business writing content to share with the masses, much less put it up for sale.

To further support my argument, I’ve broken it down into 5 reasons why hiring a professional editor will do you a world of good, and prevent severe pain down the road.

Why should I hire a professional editor?

1. Because your work reflects you—and don’t you want to look good?

Look: image is everything. It’s cliché and it sucks, but that’s what makes the world go round. If you have something to say, say it with grace, dignity, and authority—and make sure it’s well edited. Looking the part goes a long way and lends credibility to your image.

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2. Because it saves you time to devote to writing and building your brand.

Many of us already feel pressed for time. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to solely focus on your writing and your brand? With a professional editor in your arsenal, you can do just that.

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3. Because you probably haven’t been properly trained.

Like I mentioned before, Microsoft Word and other word processing programs are not a catchall—nor are your friends or family. And chances are that you have not been trained as an editor, either. When I needed knee surgery, I didn’t attempt to do it myself; I went to an orthopedic surgeon. And though that’s an extreme example, it’s a good visual to continue the argument.

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4. Because there are always mistakes.

Here’s further perspective for you: I have edited many manuscripts after they have been on the market. Sadly, my clients paid for “professional” services that were a load of crap. I could not believe how many errors I found!

In one novel, I made 1,750 changes in total! In another, I made 2,631! And those weren’t even the worst. This, folks, is just one of the many reasons to hire a professional who has actually been trained and has also been editing for a number of years.

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5. Because even editors need an editor!

Hey, just because I’m a professional editor doesn’t mean that my stuff comes out perfect every time. I have my own professional editor, who is worth every penny. It’s important for me to have an outside/objective opinion when it comes to my writing. It not only helps to catch all the mistakes I make, but also improves my writing and gives me confidence to continue to pursue my literary endeavors.

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Here are two grammar quizzes you can take, just for fun. You may be able to get a better sense of your grammar knowledge:

 http://syntaxis.com/grammar-quiz

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationquestions/9987757/Good-grammar-test-can-you-pass.html

Now, after all that, you may be asking: Tamar, how can I find a good editor? I’m glad you asked!

A good editor has a good track record. A good editor is not someone who edits just to make extra money; he or she is passionate about what he or she does, and has been in the industry for a while. A good editor may offer to give you a sample edit, or may post some examples of his or her prior work on his or her website. A good editor is typically easy to find on the Internet and has a professional website. And, he or she has a substantial portfolio that is constantly updated. Also, good editors are not very cheap! A good editor is worth his or her weight in gold, and will charge a reasonable rate for his or her time.

If you’re at a loss for where to even start looking, you can always hire me 😉 Yes, shameless plug, but hey—you’re here already, right? I’d love to work with you on your project, contact me for a quote.