Red Ink Won't Kill You

June 17, 2010

Tips for Better E-newsletter and Blog Writing (No. 10)

As a longtime editor and reader of intern-penned articles, I often was faced with explaining why their papers were overwhelmed with red ink. My opening line was usually, “It’s not as bad as it looks.” Although, usually it was.

I then would go through their stories — item by item — and explain the reasoning for my suggestions. We would spend time working on bad grammar, inconsistent style and faulty construction, but what I really tried to focus on was the concept that writing is about communicating an idea. It is about gathering facts and presenting them in an unbiased fashion so the reader can draw their own conclusions. Or it is about having a point of view and revealing it in a compelling way.

Certainly, good writing requires a fundamental and technical understanding of the language and the rules that we must follow. But it is the art of writing that captures people’s hearts, builds trust and changes opinion.

So like I would tell my interns, let’s works on the nuts and bolts as we go along, but put your energy in the message. Tell your story. Let it fly and then come back and clean it up. No one will care about a missed comma when they have been moved.

And even if they do, at least it’s a comment on your blog.

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