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Today’s Writing Tip: Establishing Authority

Freelance-Zone.com welcomes Sigrid Macdonald back with another round of writing tips. It’s great to have you back, Sigrid!

Often writers want to sound modest, so they say things like “I’m not an authority,” or “I could be wrong.” This may work well in general conversation or on a message board, but it doesn’t fly in a book, blog post or an article. Why not? Well, if you’re not an authority, why should I care what you write?

Let’s say you’re discussing bullying. If you preface your remarks by saying that this is just your humble opinion and you may not be right, readers have no reason to give your words any credibility. Take the time and the effort to establish and substantiate your position; then don’t undermine yourself by saying that you’re not an authority.

Sigrid Macdonald is a book coach, a manuscript editor, and the author of three books including Be Your Own Editor. BYOE is available on Amazon in soft cover and on Kindle . Or get 20% off the regular price by writing directly to the author at sigridmac@rogers.com. Read more at http://beyourowneditor.blogspot.com.

Introducing Sigrid Macdonald

Hello there! I’ll be doing a biweekly column on writing tips, and I’m very excited about that. Before I begin, I want to tell you a bit about myself.

Sigrid Macdonald
Sigrid Macdonald

Some of my earliest memories in grammar school are of being in the library and asking the librarian for suggestions about books to read for fun. She gave me a book called The Trouble with Jenny’s Ear, which was about a girl who could hear other people’s thoughts. I was so entranced with this book that I wrote to the author, Oliver Butterworth, and he wrote back! That was the first time I ever seriously considered becoming a writer.

Since then, I’ve published three books and countless articles. I blog on a regular basis, act as a book coach, a manuscript evaluator and an editor. I’ve made mistakes — who hasn’t? — and my editing clients have made mistakes, and from that I’ve learned a great deal. I’d like to share this knowledge with you, in the hope that it will improve your writing.

Starting with all the components that make for a smashing e-mail, I’ll move on to other areas, including how to establish strong characters and background in fiction; how to organize nonfiction; important tips for proofreading; how to ensure consistency and eliminate redundancies; if you can trust your spell-check; and anything else that you’d like to hear about.

Writing is one of life’s greatest pleasures that is neither illegal, immoral nor fattening! So hop on board and join me on the road to polishing and perfecting your writing skills.

Sigrid Macdonald is the author of three books, including Be Your Own Editor, available at Lulu.com.

Top Editing Tips From A Pro

Sigrid Macdonald, Author of Be Your Own Editor
Sigrid Macdonald

Today we have a special feature on a book that will help you become a better editor when it comes to refining your own work. Since this skill isn’t the easiest to master, editor/author Sigrid Macdonald decided to write a book on the subject. Here are the details in an interview with Sigrid…

1. The name of the book is “Be Your Own Editor”, so it’s probably best to start by asking what led you to write this book? Give us a little background and some history behind the inspiration.

I’ve been a writer for several decades.  I started out doing articles for political organizations and op-ed pieces for the newspaper.  Then I moved on to writing for magazines and finally, I wrote books.  After I finished my first book, I was hired by a local company to be a manuscript editor.  I knew nothing about editing but I was confident about my skills because I had been writing for so long — that faith in myself was misplaced!

Editing and writing require completely different skill sets.  They look and sound as though they should be the same, because in many respects, editing is just like rewriting. On the other hand, writing involves a creative process of putting your ideas on paper, but editing involves the meticulous review of everything you’ve written to make sure that it’s structurally and grammatically sound and accurate.

In the old days, pretty much everyone who wasn’t a professional writer edited his or her own material.  For example, most college and university students would never have considered hiring a proofreader or editor to go over their essays.  

Nowadays, things have changed.  Higher expectations are placed on students by professors in postsecondary education, yet many of the fundamentals of English composition and grammar are not being taught properly in the early years.  Many of us are writing on websites, in the blog community or even self-publishing books.  No one edits that work, whereas a professional writer can submit an article to a magazine, and the magazine editor will kindly and quickly remove any typos or awkward structural or grammatical problems.  Not so when we do these things ourselves. Consequently, we may miss all kinds of redundancies, inconsistencies, misused words or poorly phrased sentences.

Be Your Own Editor is the book I wish that I’d had when I made the transition from writer to professional editor.  I wrote it in order to share what I’ve learned about editing.  So often, I receive inquiries about my services from people who can’t afford to hire me. That makes me feel really bad because my background is in social work and I want everyone to have access to services. This book is meant for all those talented, dedicated writers or students who can’t afford to hire a pricey editor, and could do a perfectly good job themselves if they put in a little extra time and effort brushing up on the basics of grammar and organization.

2. How did you discover the techniques you recommend in the book and perfect them? How specifically have they contributed to your success?

Many of the techniques in the book are quite simple.  I talk about the need for consistency and clarity.  I discuss how to compose an essay, blog post, article or nonfiction book.  And I go into great detail about frequently misused words such as affect or effect, further and farther or between and among.  I discovered all these things by either making mistakes in my own writing or catching them in my clients’ works. Continue reading Top Editing Tips From A Pro