Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Published: Tip #4--Elements of Style

You must have noticed by now that I don't give any advice on how to write well. First, I'm not an expert in that (I consider myself more a story teller than eloquent writer), second, I figure you're already reading the "how to's" of writing, taking classes and having your local writer's group critique your work, and third, you probably don't want to be told how to write anyway.

The only advice I do have on writing is to at least learn that periods and question marks go before the end quotation mark. That is the one grammatical mistake that lets an editor know that you are an amateur. With so many writers being let go from newspapers and magazines, you have more competition from professional writers than ever. I know that reading about grammar and style isn't fun, but nonetheless, I recommend the little book, The Elements of Style, by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White. Why? Because it's short! It's the perfect bathroom or bedside accessory. Plus, I can relate to the authors--E.B White wrote Charlotte's Web (don't you find that comforting?) and William Strunk Jr. taught at my alma mater, Cornell University.

Grammatical errors will kill respect for your work. Because typos are a weak point of mine, that is why at the end of every post I ask you readers to comment on my mistakes (my husband usually does that, but I post this before my day job and he's not in the mood to edit that early!). Since I'm hoping to prevent my daughter's birth defects, caused by the virus, CMV, from happening to other children through this blog, it's key that I look good!

The following publishing advice, submitted by Katy Koontz, former features and travel editor for McCall's magazine, emphasizes the above:

Published Tip #4

"This may sound obvious, but it's amazing how many writers don't do this: Proofread everything you send out! You don't want to give an editor ANY reason to turn you down, especially for something that's so easy to correct. Along the same lines, make an effort to ensure that the name of the editor you're writing to is spelled correctly. When I was the features and travel editor at McCall's magazine, for example, I frequently received queries addressed to my predecessor. Those that weren't addressed to her were often addressed to "Kathy Koontz." I can guarantee you that the writers who took the time to make a quick confirmation call and who then bothered to spell my name right got much more of my attention." Katy Koontz, Freelance writer and editor. http://www.katykoontz.com/

P.S. If you find any typos, or have advice or a question, please post in "comments" below.



Joan Heid said...

My youngest of 4 was diagnosed with cCMV after she was born in Feb. We have been devastated by it and I don't want this to needlessly happen to even one more child/family! I would love to go on Oprah to tell how this disease has affected our daughter, our family, and how future moms can protect themselves!
Joan Heid, Louisville, KY, USA

Melissa said...

My little boy was born June 22 2009 and diagnosed with CMV June 27 2009. I would love to go on Oprah to tell how this disease has affected our family...and to help others that have no idea about CMV. I was one of them and no one told me I could get a cold virus (CMV) and pass it onto my baby. I wish I would have known about CMV!