A lovely woman named Danielle from Israel looked at my pathetic nails and gently talked about the wonderful advantages of buffing. I smiled and nodded my head. I’ve had my nails buffed before. I’ve even owned a buffer. But I was stunned when she whipped my nails into shape in just seconds. They glowed like fresh pearls under the harsh fluorescent lights. And there was nothing artificial on them.
Your writing needs a manicure too. A draft is just a draft until you give it a makeover. Good editing will turn that rough, dull manuscript into a polished gem. But how do you give your writing an overhaul?
Here are 5 simple steps.
1. Remove unnecessary clutter. Are you getting to the point or are you a little long-winded? There’s no need to belabor the point. Don’t go on and on and on just to see more words in print. Be concise.
2. Be clear. Are you saying what you mean? Most writers assume the reader knows what the author is thinking. Sadly, that’s not the case. If you’re not clear, the reader won’t be either. Read what you’ve written as if you know nothing about the subject. Does it make sense? If not, explain it, clarify it, or write it another way.
3. Put some emotion in it. Don’t write the same old same old everyone else is writing. You do what you do because you love it. So share that love with your audience. Put your heart into your writing. Your feelings are what communicate with your readers. When you’re excited, your writing vibrates with enthusiasm, and your readers respond.
4. Be authentic. Your audience wants to know that you’re the expert. They’re coming to you to solve their problems. But these days they want more than your expertise. They want to connect. It’s not enough anymore to simply offer solutions. You need to be open and vulnerable. Readers want you to show them that you can relate, that you’ve had the same or similar experiences. In order to do that you have to be vulnerable. For some writers, vulnerability is the last thing they want to face. But being open and authentic will truly open readers’ hearts, and they’ll see you not just as an expert but someone they can trust.
5. Check your grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Nothing turns off a reader more than a slew of mistakes. Don’t rely on spell-check to clean up your manuscript for you. Software programs can’t catch everything and they don’t know what you mean to say. Read, read, and read some more. If you’re reading on the screen, print out your pages. Words on paper look different than words on a screen. Then read aloud. Saying words out loud gives you a chance to hear their sound and rhythm—another way to catch mistakes. And if you don’t have those “eagle” eyes that you need, find someone who does.
These five tips are a great starting point for cleaning up your manuscript. Be patient with yourself and the process. With some effort, you’ll start to see that glow.
If you’re ready for professional help, email me or call 770.623.8303 for a consultation. I’d love to make your writing shine!
Photo by Mikhail Malyshev