Remember our English teachers’ complaints when we put too much information into one sentence, stringing it together with a bunch of ‘…and then…’s?
“We went to the park and then we went to the store
and then we went home.”
Oof! I ran out of breath on that one.
Although we could fix this with semicolons (“We went to the park; then we …”), I’m not a huge fan of this trend. Usually, it’s a lazy way to create a run-on without irritating the grammar police. If I were proofing the sample sentence, I would suggest:
“We went to the park before heading to the store.
Afterward, we went home.”
The other side of the story…
Opposite of the run-on is the sentence fragment: too few words. We often speak in fragments – and yes, I use them in these conversational blogs – but I found this in a formal document:
“Went to the store.”
I’m pretty sure the author neither ran a spell/grammar check, nor read the copy out loud before publishing it.
Does this help?
The best advice I can offer to ensure a good writing result: give ourselves plenty of time to do a good job, but still have someone else look it over.
“But … I don’t have time!” we complain.
If it’s a last-minute assignment, ‘time’ isn’t a luxury we’ll have. However, we usually run out of time for two reasons: (a) we don’t start the minute we receive the assignment and (b) we let other things get in the way.
In many cases, ‘other things’ are a demanding boss, fussy client, or even family members (who can be demanding and fussy).
Gotta love a 9-point checklist!
(Expanded information available: ‘Proofreading Tools You can use Today’)
Here’s the path to a better file:
- Start long before the deadline.
- Write the original copy as carefully as possible.
- Slowly read the first draft out loud and edit, as necessary.
- Have someone who’s new to the document suggest edits.
- Incorporate their revisions, where necessary.
- Repeat #4-#5 with the edited copy and a new person.
- Send the document to an editor.
- Incorporate those last changes.
- Now you are ready for the proofreader (‘polisher’).
If it makes you feel better: as I’m incorporating finishing touches here, I’ve started constructing a new blog for next year. Can you imagine the scrutiny my writing endures?
Your Takeaway: We need several different people to review our written materials. It’s better to carefully consider/incorporate editing suggestions before an unforgiving public – or boss – finds every error.
Final Note: Once someone reviews a file, they are no longer a ‘fresh set of eyes.’ Handing multiple edits to the same people over-and-over-again does not constitute multiple reviews. Be careful out there!