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The ABCs of Good Writing

Aug 5, 2008
Every good fiction editor knows that their job is based on how well the author that they are editing knows the fundamentals of good writing. That's not to say that every client you accept as a book editor should have the skills on par with a professional writer, but there are some fundamentals to good writing that should be constant throughout.

It's important to remember that the shortcomings that we face as either the writer or fiction editor come to us from all the way back in grammar school and no matter how hard most of us try to overcome these things, they still persist and crop up years later. Believe it or not, the absence of a teacher or parent who can stand over us to correct our mistakes can often be considered a shortcoming when it comes to correcting what's wrong with out writing.

It's unfortunate, but as we get older the feedback comes in less obvious ways. For instance, if a client rejects a proposal, we often assume that client has changed the scope of what they want and that our writing had little or nothing to do with the change of heart. In a similar way, if a publisher rejects a synopsis for our latest book, we might tend to blame the fiction editor and not even think to look at our writing skills as the possible culprit.

One of the first things that you can do if you ever want to be considered a professional writer is take a good look at the problems that crop up again and again in your prose. By looking at samples of past writing, we can see the origins of the problems that we are having today. Look for patterns so that you can polish your work before it ever gets to the point where it's seen by a manuscript editor.

It's very important to be organized as well. Ideas need to be presented in an orderly fashion and they need to follow a logical sequence or at least one that flows with a narrative structure. The good fiction editor will be able to help you with these issues but their job is generally not to rewrite the text for you, but rather to make sure to bring out the best in what you've done.

There are other tricks of the trade that any professional writer knows about and one of them is the need to cut down on the amount of repetition in your writing. When you've written your document in Word Format, you can always use the 'find' feature to look for the amount of times a word or phrase is repeated and generally a dozen repetitions on any single page can be considered too many.
About the Author
Robert Starr is a professional writer/editor with several published books and a degree in journalism. He's brought 20 years of experience in the craft to his own on line writing/editing service. You can reach him at
robstarr
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