Friday, March 13, 2015

How to Edit Socially

I work in a place where I often see writing that needs a little help. Now, I'm no grammar expert but I think I have a basic handle on it. I've been at it for years and have been published here and there. Hopefully, that counts as something.

When I see mistakes, missing commas, repetitive writing, etc. the corrections sometimes just pop right out of my mouth. I went on a job interview once where the owner of the company was using a word wrong and he kept repeating it. Suddenly, in the  middle of the interview I blurted out, "You're using that word wrong." I couldn't help it. My mouth had a mind of its own and my poor little grammar lovin' heart couldn't take it any more.
Surprisingly, I got a call the next day with a job offer.
I turned it down.

Now back to work. My job is nothing spectacular. I answer phones, process mail, write stuff, and help everyone else in the building do everything. And I love it. There's always work to do, the people are happy, and the bosses are great. Everything my last job wasn't. Except for writing. My pet writing peeves take a hit almost every day.

1. Repetitive words. The home was devastated and needed repairs. The devastated condos were devastated. For God's sake get a Thesaurus...or hit shift F7.

2. Starting each sentence with the same word. When they fixed the home... When it was time for... When the family... Think outside the box. There are millions of words out there. Something else will work just as well as that one word.

3. Run on sentences. If you're sentence runs three or four lines and takes up three separate thoughts....Separate them!

4. And as the guilt washes over me from peeve #4...No exclamation points in business writing. I once had a journalism prof tell me, "No exclamation points unless you're on fire." Good advice.

5. Almost as annoying as repetitive words is repetitive thoughts. Turning one sentence around and saying the same thing as the previous sentence. Same thought, different words. They worked day and night to get the job done. Everyday they worked long into the night and finished the job.

Enough of my peeves, what's yours? And what's the best way to bring it to the person's attention? Some don't like to be corrected. Then I vacillate between taking it to a manager or just forgetting about it. Not my circus, not my monkey.
But I like the company and want it to do well.

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

one of my jobs at Xavier as a reviewer of research projects I often have to correct all kinds of errors. Kind of a pain.