Editing lessons I have learned from tradies #8

(with apologies to all the excellent tradies out there)

We can all see what is wrong with this job. The urinal has been installed on the side panel, not the back wall. It doesn’t match the others. Worse, it leaves the user exposed to public view. So it irritates us when we see it – why did the plumber do that? Was he or she blind? Didn’t they care? 

What we forget is that the urinal probably does its job just as well as the others in the image. The plumber was paid to install three workable urinals, not to make them match each other or get paid to think of who would be using them and how.

Yet, I bet the ones who hired the plumber assumed they would.

How does this apply to your writing?

We can write something that is perfectly correct in terms of spelling, grammar and punctuation. It’s understandable, it’s fit for purpose. However, all writing should be more than that.

The reader will have expectations. If you are writing a book, the reader will expect to be transported to a new world (fiction), presented with new ideas and ways of doing things (non-fiction, business book) or both.

If you are writing marketing material, the reader will need to be persuaded, to be engaged, to be convinced to click the ‘contact us now’ button.

In other words, when we write, we need to have a clear picture in our minds of our ideal reader, our avatar, and write in their language in ways that they will respond to. We need to pitch our book at their language level and hook our readers in with the first sentence. Non-fiction writing, especially for businesses, means no jargon (unless you’re writing for your industry), no patronising, few features and loads of benefits.

A professional editor is your first unbiased reader. With a few pertinent questions, they will be able to help you target your ideal reader and polish your prose to engage them.


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