Editing lessons I have learned from tradies #10

(with apologies to all the great tradies out there)

No guesses for seeing what is wrong in this image!

We expect brick walls to be built with the bricks laid in straight lines. This isn’t just so it looks ‘right’. Even in ancient times, people knew that bricks laid in straight lines gave the wall structure. The physics of laying in straight lines made the wall stronger and therefore less likely to crumble or collapse on impact. Mortar between the bricks certainly helped – just look at all the ancient Roman monuments still surviving today. (Dry stone walls are another matter as they don’t use mortar or straight lines; yet they are built in a methodical way enables them survive very well.)

Structure is vital if something constructed is to last. This applies to everything, from businesses to brick walls to bathrooms. It also applies to writing.

Structure is another name for ‘rules’. The rules of writing – spelling, grammar and punctuation – are vital if your writing is to survive. You don’t need to morph into a grammar Nazi or a spelling pedant but your writing must follow the rules of the language you are writing in so that you can be understood, your message is clear and that your readers feel respected. Especially in business, sloppy spelling, grubby grammar and pointless punctuation can make you look illiterate which will affect the reputation of your business. Pepsi and General Motors found this out the hard way.

Trying to comprehend something riddled with spelling mistakes, incorrect grammar and inept use of punctuation will turn your reader off.

Moral: if you’re unsure of your mastery of the basics (and there are many good reasons why people aren’t), get someone to proofread what you write before you click ‘send’ or ‘post’. If it is a longer piece of writing such as a blog or book, hire an editor.


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