Copyediting Tutorial #3

How to use this page:

In the blockquote section below is a rough draft I hacked into shape. Corrections are in red. Suggested replacements are in blue.

Step 1: Study the edits and try to guess why I suggested the corrections. Doing so will prime your mind to think like an editor.

Step 2: Scroll down to the Notes section and read my rationale for the changes. Doing so will confirm how well you guessed in step 1.

Step 3: Share some of your passion (or downright hatred) for editing in the comments.

This tutorial is a full course meal designed for digesting in one sitting. We’ll create bite-sized blog posts containing one copyediting concept per post.That way, if studying copyediting in small chunks is more your style, these full tutorials won’t overwhelm you.

Enjoy copyediting tutorial #3.

There are a lot(Lots) of people giving out(offer) really bad(horrible) advice on how to use Twitter(Twitter advice). You can follow their suggestions and get(land) 30,000 followers that have also read(busily reading their) Twitter for Clueless Twits (book), but what you won’t get is an audience that cares about what you say and (a caring audience that listens to your every word, and you’ll miss) real networking opportunities (too).

Here are five things not to do on Twitter if you want it to be a valuable tool for building your network and reputation. (Twitter is a valuable network and reputation-building tool, but only if you avoid five common mistakes:)

1. Mass follow people, and unfollow the ones(those) that don’t follow back. This is a way to build up (Doing these builds) an impressive list of followers, but how many of them are interested in what you have to say, and how many of them are just following(only follow) back to build up(increase) their own numbers?

Follow people that you have a genuine interest in(you genuinely find interesting,) and focus your attention on being the kind of(a) remarkable person who shares things of value that others want to follow(valuable, follow-worthy content). A few hundred engaged followers is(are) worth a lot more than 50,000 who tune you out.

2. Use search to give others the hard sell. Twitter search is a very useful(powerful) tool for finding those that might benefit from your services or products, but you must proceed with caution. I’d go so far as to say that you never want to try to directly sell to any one individual on Twitter without them having(unless they’ve) given crystal clear signs that they are open to your message.

Think about it this way,(.) imagine you’re(You’re) at a cocktail party having a conversation(conversing) with a group about wanting to sell your house and wanting to know the first steps(what first steps you should take to sell your house). From across the room a real estate agent jumps into your conversation. Would you rather she:

Answer your question in a factual way and hand you(offer) her card with an invitation to get into touch if you have further questions(and invite you to discuss additional questions later)?

Or,

Telling(Tell) you that she can solve all your problems, but you need to sign with her right now(then) as she whips out her appointment book and insists on booking a visit to your home right away (and won’t take, “Let me think about it,” or, “Let me talk to my spouse,” as a signal to back off)?

If you use search to find people with problems you could solve, do just that and let them look up(browse) your information on your profile(profile information) if they want to learn more.

3. If using search for the hard sell is bad, sending (random) @ sales messages at random is suicide. There is no quicker way to get blocked than by sending @ messages to people out of the blue to try and sell them something. (Nothing excites people into blocking you quicker than sending out-of-the-blue @ sales messages.) Get blocked enough times and Twitter will shut down (suspend) your account. You’ve nothing to gain by doing it(so) (since by-and-large nobody will click on your links, let alone buy) and everything to lose.

4. Argue with strangers over pointless stuff. A bit of lively debate is a ton of fun and it’s almost an ethical duty to call out those who are attacking(attack) you and your friends.

For example, I once tweeted a link to a no spend week challenge I was running. A local coffee shop owner took offense at that and sent me an angry message that what I was doing was going to (stating I would) ruin small business. It could have been an interesting discussion had she or he(the owner) not immediately gone into attack mode and taken something that was clearly not personal( a nonpersonal tweet) as an affront.

The thing is, I’d been meaning to check out that shop (the) next time I was in(visited) that area of town , because I’d seen them on Twitter. But after being scolded in public(the owner scolded me in public) for such a stupid non-reason, you can bet I’ve never set foot in there.

5. Forget that(the saying,) yYou get what you give. You don’t have to follow everyone back who follows you on Twitter. You don’t have to respond to every @ message, or reciprocate every retweet or follow recommendation. But you do have to provide value to make an impact(impact people) on Twitter. That could mean that you’re(Be) entertaining, helpful, or informative, so long as you provide something that others want(value to others). In short, there has to be a reason for people (people need a reason) to follow you.

The value doesn’t necessarily have to consist of making(stem from sending) great tweets. Some popular Twitter accounts are simply automated links to new blog posts, but the thing is they are posts that people are eager to see (them), and not some boring blog that’s just a tepid rehash(with tepid rehashes) of what everyone else is saying(says).

Find what style of tweets works for you.

Some people can tweet about what they had for breakfast and make other people care. You don’t have to appeal to everybody to make Twitter work for you, but you do have to(must) deliver something that’s of value(value) to your target audience.

What are some ways that people have(ways have people) turned you off on Twitter? What would your one piece of advice be to those just starting out (Twitter rookies)?

NOTES:

  1. There are a lot(Lots) of people giving out(offer) really bad(horrible)advice on how to use Twitter(Twitter advice). – Don’t start sentences with flabby phrases like there is, there are, there were. Start with whatever these phrases refer to. Normally, I’d like to see a more precise phrase than lots, but I was satisfied enough with cutting three flabby words. Giving out is a flabby phrase, so I replaced it with offer. Intensified Adjective Alert: bad is an adjective. Really intensifies this adjective. When you see this construction, look for a stronger adjective to replace both. In this case I used horrible. Advice on how to use Twitter is a flabby phrase. We assume Twitter advice will show us how to use twitter so on how to use is unnecessary. We’re left with advice and Twitter which I switched into Twitter advice. Be mindful of this opportunity which I call Combining Nouns Opportunity (because I’m terrible at remembering the official names of techniques I intuitively use). We shaved nine words from this sentence.
  2. You can follow their suggestions and get(land) 30,000 followers that have also read(busily reading their) Twitter for Clueless Twits (book), but what you won’t get is an audience that cares about what you say and (a caring audience that listens to your every word, and you’ll miss) real networking opportunities (too).Get is a flabby verb. I replaced it with land, a stronger and more hip verb. The term that have also read is flabby and we have to wait for the last word to find out what the 30,000 followers are doing, so I immediately say these followers are busily reading. I erased what since the previous sentence starts with you, and I wanted the sentence after the conjunction but to start with you too. An audience that cares is another flabby expression. Whenever you see a noun followed by that and a verb, try to turn the verb into an adjective describing the noun. In this case, I changed it to a caring audience. I used a comma and added the phrase and you miss because the authors sentence reads as if the audience won’t care about what you have to say, and they won’t care about real networking opportunities either. The author clearly didn’t mean to do this so I fixed the ambiguity.
  3. Here are five things not to do on Twitter if you want it to be a valuable tool for building your network and reputation. (Twitter is a valuable network and reputation-building tool, but only if you avoid five common mistakes:) – I removed the flabby phrase here are, and replaced the ambiguous things with mistakes. I simplified how the author defined Twitter as a valuable tool. I shaved a total of 7 words from the sentence.
  4. Mass follow people, and unfollow the ones(those) that don’t follow back. This is a way to build up (Doing these builds) an impressive list of followers, but how many of them are interested in what you have to say, and how many of them are just following(only follow) back to build up(increase) their own numbers? – I changed the ones to those to shave a word. I changed this is a way to build up to doing so builds to shave three more words. Build up is also a flabby expression. Drop the up. I deleted of them because it’s redundant; how many is all you need to refer back to followers. I used the phrase only follow to shave another word. Build up is a flabby expression. Drop the up, and in this case, I chose a verb I thought was more powerful.
  5. Follow people that you have a genuine interest in(you genuinely find interesting,) and focus your attention on being the kind of(a) remarkable person who shares things of value that others want to follow(valuable, follow-worthy content). – I reworked the phrase that you have a genuine interest in because it’s clunky due to interest being used as a noun instead of an adjective. Nominalization like this brings along dead weight. I shaved three words with the fix. The phrase the kind of is flabby and unnecessary. The phrase things of value that others want to follow is flabby. Things is ambiguous, so I changed it to content and gave it two strong adjectives. I shaved two more words by doing so.
  6. Use search to give others the hard sell. Twitter search is a very useful(powerful) tool for finding those that might benefit from your services or products, but you must proceed with caution. – The term very useful is anything but. Avoid very whenever possible. This is another Intensified Adjective Alert. I used powerful as a more powerful replacement for useful.
  7. I’d go so far as to say that you never want to try to directly sell to any one individual on Twitter without them having(unless they’ve) given crystal clear signs that they are open to your message. – I removed two instances of the word that, because we rarely need it, and removing it doesn’t destroy the meaning of the sentence or confuse the reader. Be careful to read your sentences after you remove the word that, though. On rare occasions, the sentence meaning does become unclear. I removed the unnecessary, flabby expression try to. If I left it in, we’d have want to, try to, sell to in once sentence. I changed the expression without them having given because it’s clunky, and saying having given is tough on the tongue.
  8. Think about it this way,(.) imagine you’re(You’re) at a cocktail party having a conversation(conversing) with a group about wanting to sell your house and wanting to know the first steps(what first steps you should take to sell your house). – The author strung two sentences together with a comma. This is a comma splice, so I used a period and split the sentences. I removed the phrase imagine you’re because I had faith in the audience imagining the scenario without the author telling them to do so. The phrase having a conversation is a Nominalization Alert, because conversation is a weaker version of conversing, and this nominalization brought with it the two unnecessary words having and a. I removed the two instances of the phrase wanting to, because it’s assumed if a person talks about steps to sell a home, they want to sell.
  9. Answer your question in a factual way and hand you(offer) her card with an invitation to get into touch if you have further questions(and invite you to discuss additional questions later)? – I replaced hand you with offer to save a word. The word invitation is a Nominalization Alert. I replaced it with it’s stronger verb form invite. I replaced the flabby expression to get into touch with to discuss to shave two words.
  10. Telling(Tell) you that she can solve all your problems, but you need to sign with her right now(then) as she whips out her appointment book and insists on booking a visit to your home right away (and won’t take, “Let me think about it,” or, “Let me talk to my spouse,” as a signal to back off)? – The word telling is faulty, because we introduced a scenario prior that began,  Would you rather she. If we use telling, the ing form of tell, the sentence would read, Would you rather she telling you. I removed that because it’s flabby. I changed now to then, because I thought it was a more accurate representation of whenever this scenario would occur.
  11. If you use search to find people with problems you could solve, do just that and let them look up(browse) your information on your profile(profile information) if they want to learn more. – I removed just because I thought it was unnecessary. I changed the flabby expression look up to browse to shave a word. Combining Nouns Opportunity: I changed information on your profile to profile information. Look for instances when you can combine nouns in this fashion and cut the flab.
  12. If using search for the hard sell is bad, sending (random) @ sales messages at random is suicide. – The phrase at random is flabby. I attached this to the noun it refers to.
  13. There is no quicker way to get blocked than by sending @ messages to people out of the blue to try and sell them something. (Nothing excites people into blocking you quicker than sending out-of-the-blue @ sales messages.) –This sentence required a total rework. Don’t start sentences with there is, there are, there were. I shaved nine words from this sentence.
  14. Get blocked enough times and Twitter will shut down (suspend) your account. – I erased times because it’s redundant after blocked enough. Shut down is a flabby phrase. I replaced it with suspend.
  15. You’ve nothing to gain by doing it(so) (since by-and-large nobody will click on your links, let alone buy) and everything to lose. – I made a stylistic change by replacing it with so. It flows better off the tongue for me. I removed the phrase by and large because it’s unnecessary and flabby.
  16. A bit of lively debate is a ton of fun and it’s almost an ethical duty to call out those who are attacking(attack) you and your friends. – I changed are attaching to attack because it’s one less word and it sounds stronger.
  17. For example, I once tweeted a link to a no spend week challenge I was running. – I deleted for example. I didn’t think it was necessary.
  18. A local coffee shop owner took offense at that and sent me an angry message that what I was doing was going to (stating I would) ruin small business. – The phrase at that is unnecessary. I trimmed down the phrase that what I was doing was going to and shaved five words.
  19. It could have been an interesting discussion had she or he(the owner) not immediately gone into attack mode and taken something that was clearly not personal(a nonpersonal tweet) as an affront. – The author mentioned the owner previously, so to remain consistant (and shave a word) I changed she or he to owner. I changed the ambiguous something to tweet and gave it a nice adjective, thus shaving three words.
  20. The thing is, I’d been meaning to check out that shop (the) next time I was in(visited) that area of town , because I’d seen them on Twitter.I deleted the flabby phrase The thing is. I added the so the sentence flowed more smoothly. I changed the flabby phrase was in to visited to shave a word. The phrase of town is unnecessary.
  21. But after being scolded in public(the owner scolded me in public) for such a stupid non-reason, you can bet I’ve never set foot in there.Passive Voice Alert: I changed the sentence to start with who was scolding.
  22. Forget that(the saying,) “yYou get what you give. – You get what you give is a famous saying so I added the saying. The way the author wrote this, it read as if he wanted the reader to forget the quote.
  23. You don’t have to follow everyone back who follows you on Twitter. – The word back is unnecessary. This article is about Twitter, so the author didn’t have to mention on Twitter.
  24. But you do have to provide value to make an impact(impact people) on TwitterMake an impact is a Nominalization Alert. Using impact as a noun is weaker than using it as a verb, so I changed it (Yeah, I blew it by not using “effect” instead. Sue me). Again, I deleted the phrase on Twitter, because we know which social platform this article highlights.
  25. That could mean that you’re(Be) entertaining, helpful, or informative, so long as you provide something that others want(value to others). – The phrase That could mean that you’re is flabby. I changed it and shaved four words. The phrase something that others want is ambiguous because of the word something.
  26. In short, there has to be a reason for people (people need a reason) to follow you. – Don’t start sentences with there is, there are, there has to be. These constructions are flabby. I changed it and shaved four words.
  27. The value doesn’t necessarily have to consist of making(stem from sending) great tweets. – The phrase have to consist of is flabby. I changed it to stem from and shaved two words. Since we don’t make tweets, I changed making it to sending.
  28. Some popular Twitter accounts are simply automated links to new blog posts, but the thing is they are posts that people are eager to see (them), and not some boring blog that’s just a tepid rehash(with tepid rehashes) of what everyone else is saying(says). – I removed the word simply because I didn’t feel it was necessary. The whole phrase the thing is they are post that is unnecessary and a large clunk of flab. I removed it and shaved seven words. Since I changed the sentence, I had to add the word them for the sentence to make sense. I removed the word and after the second comma because it weakens the power of the sentence. I used the phrase with tepid rehashes because it flowed better. I used says instead of is saying because it sounds stronger.
  29. You don’t have to appeal to everybody to make Twitter work for you, but you do have to (must) deliver something that’s of value(value) to your target audience. – The phrase do have to is flabby. I replaced it with must and shaved two words. The phrase something that’s of value is vague and flabby. I changed it to value and shaved three words.
  30. What are some ways that people have(ways have people) turned you off on Twitter? – The phrase are some ways that people have is flabby. I reworked it and shaved three words.
  31. What would your one piece of advice be to those just starting out (Twitter rookies)? – The phrase those just starting out is flabby. I replaced it and shaved two words.

Copyediting Tutorial #3 is finished, and so is my brain from creating it. Did you know this took me about eight hours to complete? Well, it did, so I hope you spend one minute in the comments telling me how much smarter you are after reading this labor of love. I’m off to drink a beer.


Copyediting Tutorial #2

How to use this page:

In the blockquote section below is a rough draft I hacked into shape. Corrections are in red. Suggested replacements are in blue.

Step 1: Study the edits and try to guess why I suggested the corrections. Doing so will prime your mind to think like an editor.

Step 2: Scroll down to the Notes section and read my rationale for the changes. Doing so will confirm how well you guessed in step 1.

Step 3: Share some of your passion (or downright hatred) for editing in the comments.

This tutorial is a full course meal designed for digesting in one sitting. We’ll create bite-sized blog posts containing one copyediting concept per post.That way, if studying copyediting in small chunks is more your style, these full tutorials won’t overwhelm you.

Enjoy copyediting tutorial #2.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could ask your readers what they really(truly) think of you?

Not the things(what) they write in your comments section or the words which(that) stream into your inbox, but the things(what) they are too polite to give voice to. The things(That) which they might put in a Dear John letter if they were breaking up with you.

Knowing how your audience reacts to your work, knowing what touches them, what gets under their skin, what turns them off—all of these things are invaluable information that can make(make) you a better writer. In fact, one(One) of the best aspects of blogging, compared to most writing ventures, is the immediate feedback that lets you settle into the head of your audience. This valuable insight makes you a better writer, and grows your blog or business.

But, if you’re only paying attention to what your readers are saying(say), you’re likely missing the (most meaningful) messages which mean the most.

Tuning in and learning what they really(truly) think of you can help you(will) bring(advance) your writing to the next level. And, perhaps keep them from writing you off.

Here’s 10 things your audience won’t tell you:

1. “I’m losing interest.” Comments or analytics may not reflect waning interest, at least not in the first creep of its cancerous spread. But, you must always be aware of it. A failure(Failing) to connect is an encouragement of(encourages) indifference. Sure, that reader may still leave a comment here and there, and might even return the following week, but the goodwill you’ve banked is by no means bottomless, and it’s only a matter of time before your account overdraws. Beware those borderline posts that cost you popularity, loyalty or trust. And, never settle for mediocrity. Not every post requires brilliance (is brilliant), but if it’s not even(your post is nowhere) close, you shouldn’t press publish.

2. “I don’t get it.” A confused audience is often bewildered in silence. Sure, you’ll have a few outspoken regulars, bold enough for a “What you talking about Willis?” or two, but most students don’t raise their hands when they don’t understand. Never alienate readers with ambiguity. Being clear and concise doesn’t mean dumbing things down; it means conveying a clear understanding of your subject, coupled with an obvious respect for your reader(s).

3. “You’re not meeting my needs.” As a writer, (you’re responsible for) identifying and understanding audience needs is your responsibility. If you wish to cultivate a loyal following, you must offer consistent value. Do you provide unique information on a topic your readers value? Do you make them feel good about themselves, their relationships, or their circumstances? Do you speak the words they’re too timid to say out loud? Do you provide an adequate escape from reality for a period of time by weaving a web of fantasy, fiction, or emotionally charged storytelling? What needs are you meeting for your most loyal readers? If you can’t answer that basic question, please pause before publishing your next post.

4. “Your community is not a safe place for me to share my thoughts.” The comments section on a blog can take on a life of its own, and often does. While you can’t control who comments or what people(they) say, it’s your backyard and you set the example. If one or more of your readers is creating an environment leaving people feeling in danger of ridicule (and perceived danger), the community will deflate, as those who are(feel) threatened evaporate before hearing what you have to say next.

5. “I really want you to like me.” While most readers won’t come right out and say it (and those that do might require a restraining order), your readers want you, as the writer, to like them. They want to feel accepted, appreciated and acknowledged. Use available opportunities to connect with your readers on an individual basis. This will help to increase your reader base while deepening their level of loyalty.

6. “I want to be significant.” Nothing’s more alienating to an audience than feeling they don’t matter. As a writer, your readers are reliable indicators of your success. If your writing makes your readers feel insignificant, you will miss the magic dusting(sprinkling) the development of a loyal audience.

7. “I can relate to what you’re saying.” You can’t expect your readers to come right out and tell you every time you’ve made a connection(connected). But, when they do, they grant certainty of significant impact. Pour your humanity into your posts and you will relate to your audience on a deeper level. This effort will add up and expand your audience, with every new connection developing a lasting bond with your readers.

8. “I have expectations when I read your writing.” Bloggers beware! Readers visit sites with certain expectations. These vary from blog to blog, but overall, readers desire condensed knowledge, delivered in an easy-to-read and familiar format. Your readers will also come to expect a certain level of quality, a particular style of writing, and an overall character that is unique to your blog. If you want to know more about your readers’ expectations, and you probably should, set up a survey or ask pointed questions to a sampling of readers.

9. “I like to laugh.” A little levity, even for serious discussions, can make(makes) good content great and great content easier to spread. If your blog becomes the harbinger of doom and gloom, you’ll surely lose some readers. Serious discussions are great, but be sure to balance heavy with humor. While you’re laughing, make sure you’re able to laugh at yourself. Self-deprecating humor is the safest kind and can help(helps) establish yourself as a well-balanced person who doesn’t take themselves too seriously.

10.“I don’t care about how much you know until I know how much you care.” If your audience can’t see that you care(thinks you’re indifferent) , then your words, even if read, are reduced(reduce) to their lowest common denominator. If you write with the goal of reaching people, changing lives, or giving advice, then you must show your readers how much you care before your words will take root. Never calculate care, but (if you) allow the concern for your audience to creep through the cracks of your sentences and(,) you will nurture a contagious, long-lasting bond.

In real life, readers don’t usually send Dear John letters to bloggers. So, chances are, you’ll never know why they left until one day they’re suddenly not showing up any longer(gone). Learn to listen and care about your audience now and you’ll continue to thrive in a happy relationship for years to come.

NOTES:

  1. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could ask your readers what they really(truly) think of you? – I really hate really. It’s a flabby modifier. I either don’t use it or replace it with truly.
  2. Not the things(what) they write in your comments section or the words which(that) stream into your inbox, but the things(what) they are too polite to give voice to. The things(That) which they might put in a Dear John letter if they were breaking up with you. – I deleted the things because the things is ambiguous. I used the pronoun what twice to shave two words and keep the rhythmic repetition the author achieved with the things. I changed which to that. I won’t explain why this was the proper switch, because people forget this rule more often than anything else. Just bookmark a great reference guide and use it when uncertain. Mainly, words that is easier on the tongue than words which. Try saying that five times and you’ll hear what I mean. Give voice to is a flabby expression. I deleted give and to. A savings of two words. I couldn’t resist using a more formal that which combination opening in the next sentence.
  3. all of these things are invaluable information that can make(make) you a better writer. – Of these things is a flabby expression. All is all the author needed here. Blogger Authority Alert. Used make instead of can make. If you believe something is true, don’t use can or may or might; just say it and believe it. Shaved 4 words total.
  4. In fact, one(One) of the best aspects of blogging…In fact is a flabby expression. You don’t need it.
  5. But, if you’re only paying attention to what your readers are saying(say), you’re likely missing the (most meaningful) messages which mean the most. – Used the simple form of the verb construction is saying. Shaved a word. When you have a noun followed by the word which that further describes the noun, look for ways to turn these phrases into adjectives. Here I used most meaningful, thus shaving two words and creating a nice triple-m alliteration.
  6. Tuning in and learning what they really(truly) think of you can help you(will) bring(advance) your writing to the next level. – Again, I don’t like really. I changed can help you bring to will advance to increase the authority of the statement, used stronger verb (advance instead of bring), and shaved two words.
  7. Here’s 10 things your audience won’t tell you: – I’m not a fan of the phrases here is, there is, there are, there were. Where is here? Should the word here have an underline linking to the 10? Above here or below here? Start your list sentences with whatever noun here is refers to. I could have changed things to secrets, but I chose not to.
  8. A failure(Failing) to connect is an encouragement of(encourages) indifference.Nominalization Alert. Nominalization occurs when you take  perfectly good verbs (or adjectives), in this case fail and encourage, and use the noun forms, in this case, failure and encouragement. Try to avoid this construction. I shaved four words as a result.
  9. Not every post requires brilliance (is brilliant), but if it’s not even(your post is nowhere) close, you shouldn’t press publish. – Another example of nominalization. In this case, the author took a perfectly good adjective (brilliant) and used the noun form (brilliance). Ambiguous Antecedent Alert. What noun does the pronoun it refer to in it’s not even close, how close brilliance is, or how close your post is to brilliance? Be more specific whenever possible.
  10. Being clear and concise doesn’t mean dumbing things down; it means conveying a clear understanding of your subject, coupled with an obvious respect for your reader(s). – I made reader plural because I’m certain people reading the post will have more than one reader.
  11. As a writer, (you’re responsible for) identifying and understanding audience needs is your responsibility. – Fixed nominalization of responsibility. Allowed nominalization of audience needs so I didn’t have to increase word count by adding what your before audience needs. Moved the  phrase you’re responsible for to the beginning since he began it by focusing on you the writer. If I didn’t change it, the focus would have been on you the writer, followed by the audience, followed by your responsibility to that audience. Too much focus jumping.
  12. Do you provide an adequate escape from reality for a period of time by weaving a web of fantasy, fiction, or emotionally charged storytelling? – Ambiguous, flabby phrase that adds little to the sentence meaning.
  13. While you can’t control who comments or what people(they) say, it’s your backyard and you set the example. – The author focuses on commenters, so I thought the sentence should continue with what those commenters (they) have to say, rather than what people in general say. If I left it alone, it’s as if the author is talking about two separate groups with two separate actions.
  14. If one or more of your readers is creating an environment leaving people feeling in danger of ridicule (and perceived danger), the community will deflate, as those who are(feel) threatened evaporate before hearing what you have to say next.Leaving people feeling in danger is flabby, hard to say, and reads as if it’s the second item in a list of actions by your readers. I read it as your readers are creating and leaving. Changed are threatened to feel threatened to match the earlier phrase feeling in danger.
  15. “I really want you to like me.” While most readers won’t come right out and say it… — I didn’t touch really inside this quote, because it’s a quote and people talk differently than they write. Right is an unnecessary word.
  16. This will help to increase your reader base while deepening their level of loyalty.Help to is a flabby phrase that adds little meaning to the sentence. I could have replaced the first word of this sentence, This, to something more concrete like doing so to refer to use available opportunities in the previous sentence, but I missed it.
  17. If your writing makes your readers feel insignificant, you will miss the magic dusting(sprinkling) the development of a loyal audience. – I’m not happy with this change I suggested. I should have put sprinkling atop so that people don’t read magic sprinkling as a combination noun. Besides that, I ruined his d alliteration in dusting the development. I should have used magic dusting atop the development of a loyal audience.
  18. You can’t expect your readers to come right out and tell you every time you’ve made a connection(connected).Come right out and is flabby and unnecessary. Shaved four words. Not only is made a connection flabby, it’s nominalization too. I changed it to the stronger verb form, thus shaving two more words.
  19. This effort will add up and expand your audience – Flabby, unnecessary, redundant phrase.
  20. Your readers will also come to expect a certain level of quality, a particular style of writing, and an overall character that is unique to your blog. – Unnecessary phrase. Sentence meaning doesn’t change without the phrase.
  21. If you want to know more about your readers’ expectations, and you probably should, – Authority Alert. You’re the blogger giving someone information. Believe it yourself, or your readers probably won’t.
  22. A little levity, even for serious discussions, can make(makes) good content great and great content easier to spread. – Authority Alert. Refer to note #21.
  23. If your blog becomes the harbinger of doom and gloom, you’ll surely lose some readers.Some is ambiguous. The word also robs the sentence of authority. Read the before and after versions and you’ll hear what I mean.
  24. Self-deprecating humor is the safest kind and can help(helps) establish yourself as a well-balanced person who doesn’t take themselves too seriously. – Authority Alert. The word can sounds too much like might to me.
  25. If your audience can’t see that you care(thinks you’re indifferent), then your words, even if read, are reduced(reduce) to their lowest common denominator. – Not a big fan of the word can’t. People don’t want to know what can’t be done, only what can, and they don’t want to know what something isn’t but what it is. Ex. That isn’t good. Just write That sucks. Besides that, I changed can’t see that you care to thinks you’re indifferent because it reads easier and uses less words. I deleted then because it’s a weak linking term. Are reduced is passive voice, bringing focus to the person doing the reducing instead of to your words.
  26. If you write with the goal of reaching people, changing lives, or giving advice, then you must…Then is a weak linking term. Delete whenever possible.
  27. Never calculate care, but (if you) allow the concern for your audience to creep through the cracks of your sentences and(,) you will nurture a contagious, long-lasting bond. – I added if you because the sentence reads like never calculate, but allow for concern. Allow for concern is only part of a larger conditional statement and needs and if conjunction. As a result, I deleted and and inserted a comma for the sentence to make sense.
  28. In real life, readers don’t usually send Dear John letters to bloggers. – Authority Alert. Usually takes the punch out of this sentence.
  29. So, chances are, you’ll never know why they left until one day they’re suddenly not showing up any longer(gone). – Flabby phrase. Six words down to one. A savings of five words.

That’s it for Copyediting Tutorial #2. I know you learned something (Authority), and had some fun, too. Tell us how much in the comments.


Copyediting Tutorial #1

Q: How can I write better?

A: Study the copyedits of an editor.

How to use this page:

In the blockquote section below is a rough draft I hacked into shape. Corrections are in red. Suggested replacements are in blue.

Step 1: Study the edits and try to guess why I suggested the corrections. Doing so will prime your mind to think like an editor.

Step 2: Scroll down to the Notes section and read my rationale for the changes. Doing so will confirm how well you guessed in step 1.

Step 3: Share some of your passion (or downright hatred) for editing in the comments.

This tutorial is a full course meal designed for digesting in one sitting. We’ll create bite-sized blog posts containing one copyediting concept per post.That way, if studying copyediting in small chunks is more your style, these full tutorials won’t overwhelm you.

Enjoy copyediting tutorial #1.

Your Blog is Boring. These 7 Things Will Fix It! (Fix It In 7 Simple Steps)

I bet your blog is boring.

Nothing personal, just math. Seventy million blogs litter the digital landscape with mediocrity and repetition.

Separating the good from the bad isn’t too difficult, but weaving through the weeds of hum-drum, me-too, been there done that is wearisome.

Among the worst are b(B)logs coming close to awesomeness, yet fading into echo almost by accident (are among the worst). You see it within seconds of landing on the pageit looks like just another(your average) blog, yet effort pops from the pixels.

Sound familiar?

If this is you, then good news, you’re almost there(If we just described your blog, cheer up. You’ve almost defeated boring.)You’ve read a metric ton of blogging tips and have gone a long way to sharpen(succeeded in sharpening) your voice. Now it’s(It’s) time to ask what else you can do(do what it takes) to stand apart. Because doing nothing leaves you a click away from irrelevance.

7 Ways to Be Differentand Most of Them Are Free!
1) Have a logo or header grab reader attention the instant they click on the page(arrive).
A custom header is best, something(a beacon) to let the reader know from the first second (shouting how unique) you and your blog are both unique. A stock, out-of-the-box header won’t cut it. A custom header reinforces the branding you’ve built, and leads your visitor(s) toward whatever action you’d like them taking(your desired action).

2) Crush it from the first sentence forward. Your opening sentence is a pie in the windowsill, inviting the reader to come inside and(to) make themselves at home. Your first sentence either introduces you to a reader for the first time or continues a conversation. Either way, use it to make your reader smile, think, or wonder. Manage this in the first few seconds and you will place yourself far ahead of (you’ll crush) the competition.

3) Say Something. No, not the same-old stuff that everyone else is saying(says). We’re all unique,(comma splice)(;) we have different points of view. So why do so many blogs sound like they could be written by anyone(anyone could write them)? Most bloggers fear saying the wrong thing, so they just parrot what everyone else is saying(says). But take a look at (study)the must-read blogs. They are written by people who aren’t afraid to give their opinions, haters be damned(Unafraid people with passionate opinions and haters-be-damned attitudes wrote them). We’re not saying to(This doesn’t mean) be provocative for provocative’s sakethat gets(that’s) boring. But when you have something to say which truly adds (valuable to add) to the subject, don’t just say it, shout it from the rooftops!

4) Pay attention to your theme. If you’re serious about your site, build it with a premium theme. Most premium themes cost under $100, are easily customized(customize easily), and help you stand apart from a sea of sameness. Even small tweaks such as color changes or sidebar additions will help your site look professional. Most premium themes allow you to do(offer) this out of the box, without having to know tons of code(requiring coding know-how). Even if you’re not a(in) business and have nothing to sell(sell nothing), a professional look lets people know you’re serious. That alone is enough to set you apart.

5) Layout is important. Too many blogs fade into the background because their layout suffers from a vacuum of imagination. If your site sports nothing but a traditional body of copy and a right sidebar filled with AdSense links or 125 x 125 square ads, your blog is not unique. Your blog is your canvas, the layout the picture you paint for readers. Images, sidebar placement, calls to action and typographyall blend into your(the) reader experience. The more(closer to) unique that experience (gets), the less boring your blog will be(becomes). The less boring your blog, the more likely the average reader is to(will) subscribe or(and) share it with others.

6) An obvious call to action. It’s all too easy to forget this, or do it entirely wrong. Most blogs have either(either have) no call to action, or beat you over the head with it(one). What do you want from your readers? What is the most important thing they should do (action they should take) after arriving at your website? Do you want them to follow you on Twitter? Subscribe to your RSS or email feeds? Click for a free e-book or item? Friend you on Facebook? That is your call to action. Make your call to action easy to find and easier to fulfill. Some bloggers shoot for the moon right off the bat, using complicated forms asking for email, real names, addresses, and everything but their height and weight. Make your call to action so simple and enticing that it invites(entices) clicks.

7) Let your readers see the real you. Not the you which you trot out for the most formal of events, but the you that picks their nose(nose picks) every once in a while (not that I’ve ever picked my nose, (not) even once in my entire life). Too many blogs preach from the pulpit. It’s always better to let(letting) the real you come out and mingle with the masses. It’s far easier to build(building) a community when you are genuinely a part of it.

Most blogs are boring because the bloggers behind them (their bloggers) are bored or aren’t tapping their potential. Find your voice, be yourself, and let your blog reflect the real you(add period) and you’ll have people eagerly seeking out (Do so and people will eagerly seek) your posts rather than (instead of) approaching them with a yawn.

NOTES:

  1. These 7 Things Will Fix It (Fix It In 7 Simple Steps) – Start your sentences with verbs or nouns whenever possible. Avoid ambiguous terms like Things whenever possible. Add some alliteration (7 Simple Steps) whenever possible.
  2. Among the worst are b(B)logs coming close to awesomeness, yet fading into echo almost by accident (are among the worst) – This sentence starts with a preposition, an article (whatever the hell that is, huh), an adjective, and the weak verb are. Refer to note #1 about starting with nouns and verbs.
  3. it looks like just another(your average) blog – Some phrases are hard to read. Looks like just another is an example. Say it five times and you’ll hear what I mean. Replace words that trip your tongue if possible.
  4. If this is you, then good news, you’re almost there(If we just described your blog, cheer up. You’ve almost defeated boring.) – Some words have assumed meaning relative to previous statements. Try to be more specific in these instances. This, you, and there are three examples in the sentence above. I know this means the state of having a boring blog. I know you refers to the blog and not the person. I know there means the blogger is close to fixing a boring blog. So, why not just say so? (Note: The author often uses words in unique ways. I used boring as a noun to match his style.)
  5. You’ve read a metric ton of blogging tips and have gone a long way to sharpen(succeeded in sharpening) your voice. – Beware of flabby words and phrases. The phrase have gone a long way to is flabby, so I replaced it with succeeded in, and used the ing form of sharpen. Six words down to two, a savings of four words. In a reader’s busy world, brevity matters.
  6. Now it’s(It’s) time to ask what else you can do(do what it takes) to stand apart. – Beware of unnecessary, implied words. It’s time already implies that now would be a good time. Lead with the most important verbs if possible. In this case, do moves to the front.
  7. 7 Ways to Be Different—And Most Of Them Are Free! – More unnecessary, implied words. Most Are Free says the same thing without adding Of Them.
  8. Have a logo or header grab reader attention the instant they click on the page(arrive). – Removed the flab. Four words down to one. A savings of three words.
  9. A custom header is best, something(a beacon) to let the reader know from the first second (shouting how unique) you and your blog are both unique.Beacon replaces the ambiguous word something. Shouting replaces the weaker let the reader know verb construction. Removed the flab. Twenty two words down to 14. A savings of eight words.
  10. A custom header reinforces the branding you’ve built, and leads your visitor(s) toward whatever action you’d like them taking(your desired action). – Added an s to visitor so it doesn’t read as though the author thinks his reader only has one visitor. Removed the flab. Six words down to three. (NOTE: I should have changed “reader” in the previous sentences  to “readers.” I missed that. Thanks for your comment, John.)
  11. Your opening sentence is a pie in the windowsill, inviting the reader to come inside and(to) make themselves at home. – More unnecessary, implied words. Invite the reader inside and it’s assumed they will come inside. Had to replace and with to so the sentence would make sense.
  12. Your first sentence either introduces you to a reader for the first time or continues a conversation. – Redundant phrase. Introduce means for the first time.
  13. Either way, use it to make your reader smile, think, or wonder. – Remove unnecessary words that hide your power verbs, in this case make.
  14. Manage this in the first few seconds and you will place yourself far ahead of (you’ll crush) the competition. – Replaced a flabby verb construction with the more powerful verb crush. Removed the flab. Seven words  down to two. A savings of five words.
  15. No, not the same-old stuff that everyone else is saying(says). – Remove the word that whenever possible, as long as it doesn’t alter the meaning of the sentence. I replaced the present progressive tense verb is saying with the present simple tense verb says, mainly to shave one word, not so much that I believed everyone says the same old stuff more than just at present, which is saying indicates. Research verb tenses if you truly wish to master such arcane distinctions.
  16. We’re all unique,(comma splice)(;) we have different points of view. – If you have two independent clauses not connected by a conjunction, you need a semicolon or a period.
  17. So why do so many blogs sound like they could be written by anyone(anyone could write them)? – Passive voice alert. Put the subject of the action first.
  18. Most bloggers fear saying the wrong thing, so they just parrot what everyone else is saying(says) – Refer to note #15 about verb tenses. I mainly used says to shave a word for brevity’s sake.
  19. But take a look at (study)the must-read blogs. – Removed the flab. Four words become one. A savings of three words.
  20. They are written by people who aren’t afraid to give their opinions, haters be damned(Unafraid people with passionate opinions and haters-be-damned attitudes wrote them). – Passive voice alert. Put the subject of the action first. Removed the flab. People who aren’t afraid to give their opinions became unafraid people with passionate opinions. Eight words became five. A savings of three words.
  21. We’re not saying to(This doesn’t mean) be provocative for provocative’s sakethat gets(that’s) boring. – Not necessarily cutting flab here, just tightening it a bit.
  22. But when you have something to say which truly adds (valuable to add) to the subject, don’t just say it, shout it from the rooftops! – Removed the flab. Five words became three. A savings of two words. To say is implied with something valuable to add. We assume when you add to a conversation, you will say it.
  23. Most premium themes cost under $100, are easily customized(customize easily), and help you stand apart from a sea of sameness. – Passive voice alert. Problem with verb-subject focus, too. Changed so all three verbs refer to the theme and not the person customizing it. So premium themes cost, customize, and help.
  24. Most premium themes allow you to do(offer) this out of the box, without having to know tons of code(requiring coding know-how). – Used more powerful verbs. Removed the flab. Ten words became four. A savings of six words.
  25. Even if you’re not a(in) business and have nothing to sell(sell nothing), – Technically a person is not a business, they are in business. Moved my power verb sell to the front.
  26. Images, sidebar placement, calls to action and typographyall blend into your(the) reader experience. – The author is trying to help the readers of the person reading this advice, so it’s more accurate to say the reader experience.
  27. The more(closer to) unique that experience (gets), the less boring your blog will be(becomes). – If something is unique, it can’t be more unique or less unique. Added gets so the new sentence would make sense. Used becomes to shave a word.
  28. The less boring your blog, the more likely the average reader is to(will) subscribe or(and) share it with others. – Used will to shave a word. Used and instead of or because I thought subscribing and sharing should be a group and not an either/or choice.
  29. An obvious call to action. It’s all too easy to forget this, or do it entirely wrong . – Deleted the word this to shave a word. Deleted it entirely, because if it’s wrong, it’s entirely not right. (NOTE: I should have use “incorrectly” instead of “do wrong”, since do wrong means to cause harm. Thanks again to John in the comments.)
  30. Most blogs have either(either have) no call to action, or beat you over the head with it(one). – Some people use have either, but placing either after the verb have, and placing or before the verb beat makes for a clunky read. I’d rather have conjunction-verb-conjunction-verb than verb-conjunction-conjunction-verb. Changed it to one because the author is talking about blogs, plural, and it is singular. One is an all-encompassing term.
  31. What is the most important thing they should do (action they should take) after arriving at your website? – Use specific, more powerful verbs. At your site is unnesessary and already implied by the word arriving.
  32. Make your call to action so simple and enticing that it invites(entices) clicks. — Repetition is a useful rhythmic tool.
  33. Not the you which you trot out for the most formal of events, but the you that picks their nose(nose picks) every once in a while (not that I’ve ever picked my nose, (not) even once in my entire life) – Used nose picks to shave a word. I delete the word every every chance I get. Deleted in my entire life, because not even once implies the author’s entire life. ERROR – Instead of Not the you which, I should have put Not the you who, and instead of but the you that, I should have put but the you who. Use who when dealing with people. Which and that refer to things or groups.
  34. It’s always better to let(letting) the real you come out and mingle with the masses. It’s far easier to build(building) a community when you are genuinely a part of it. — Used the ing form of these two verbs to shave two words. The word a in genuinely a part of it is unnesessary, so I shaved another word.
  35. Most blogs are boring because the bloggers behind them (their bloggers) are bored or aren’t tapping their potential. – Removed the flab. Four words became two. A savings of two words.
  36. Find your voice, be yourself, and let your blog reflect the real you(add period) and you’ll have people eagerly seeking out (Do so and people will eagerly seek) your posts rather than (instead of) approaching them with a yawn. – Added a period to break this long sentence apart. Used seek instead of seeking out to shave a word. Used instead of in place of rather than. Say both phrases five times, and you’ll hear how instead of is easier on the tongue.

That’s it for Copyediting Tutorial #1. Good thing, too, because my brain aches after this much knowledge transfer. Comment below so I know whether or not to continue torturing myself. 😉