Editing lessons I have learned from tradies #7

(with apologies to all the excellent tradies out there)


This floor appears to have been tiled by a master tradesperson. Look again.

It might take you a moment to notice the two tiny tiles in the middle that are slightly misaligned, but they're there.

Try this experiment: close your eyes for twenty seconds, then open them and look at the tiled floor again. What is the first thing you see?

I bet it’s the small tiles out of place.

If you leave a typo in your writing, even just one eeny-weeny one, and someone unfortunately notices it, that is all they will remember. It’s as if, when you go for a stroll through beautiful bushland, with the wattles blooming, the magpies carolling and a sunny warmth tempered by a light refreshing breeze, all you are aware of is a tiny, irritating grain of dirt in the sole of your shoe. It’s a sad fact that all the good a person can do is cancelled out by the memory of one mistake (for instance, think of what politicians have to put up with).

If someone harps on about one mistake you made in something you wrote, forgive them and move on. The rest of what you wrote was probably excellent but if they choose to focus on one mistake, that’s their problem.

However, to avoid this, it does pay to check everything you write before pressing ‘send’ or ‘post’!

A professional editor can review your writing and pick up on the tiny errors that occur, transforming your reader’s experience into something enjoyable, profound or thought-provoking.

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