How To Write Like A Pro

There are millions of articles to read all over the net these days, some written by pros and some by amateurs. What I am repeatedly struck with however, is the constant and steady supply of poor grammar, bad spelling and incorrect word usage by otherwise great authors. Many have great content in their messages, at least part of which gets lost while the reader tries to interpret what the author meant to say. Any one of these three issues can result in the readers' lost interest in the article, lost interest in the author, lost visits to the authors' website, and of course lost sales. Here are three things any author can do to protect the message they are trying to convey, improve the image they give to their readers, and improve their performance in grammar, spelling and word usage.

Poor Grammar. If this is an area in which you have difficulty, find a copy of an elementary school book on grammar and spelling. No, I am not kidding. Readers can spot an uneducated hick trying to make a quick buck like a cheetah can spot an antelope on the African plains. Poor grammar is an easy way to lose the interest of your readers. Authors have the capacity to create a smooth and straightforward thought pattern for their readers, or they can create a very stilted and bumpy ride for their readers to try to figure out what the author meant to say. Authors, if you have to read your sentence twice to understand it, there is likely a problem for your readers. If you have trouble keeping your eyes moving from one end of a sentence to the other, there is usually a grammatical problem that needs repair. I'm certainly not suggesting that you go back to school to study grammar (yuck!), but you will convey a more professional image of yourself (and subsequently your articles and their content) if you work to improve this aspect of your work. One of the silliest things I see frequently are two or more words run together! A simple re-read will usually catch this problem. Don't forget what the comma is for, and when you should use it (to separate different thoughts within the same sentence). Get a handle on what it means to speak in the direct versus passive tense. Many authors leave their readers wallowing through vague, unclear thoughts and never quite get around to making a concise, specific point. If the reader can't successfully interpret (versus read and understand) what the author is trying to say, do you really believe the point was well made? If it looks like the author can't communicate a clear grasp of the issue, should anyone else take note of what the author has to say? Again, the elementary school grammar book will help, but for this I would also ask someone to read the article out loud to me, slowly. You would be surprised what you catch when you close your eyes and open your ears! Another trick is to write one day, then read and edit the next. Sometimes the time gap allows us to see errors that we missed earlier. Authors, make the thoughts in your sentences clear and specific. Create that wonderful, smooth flow for your readers.

Bad Spelling.When I get distracted, it's very easy to look around the active page or click onto the next article. Spell Check will catch the "i's before e's", but it will not catch all spelling errors. The author is still responsible for knowing when to use the word "to" instead of the word "two" or the word "too." Grab that elementary school book on grammar and spelling. A good refresher course on the basic rules of how to spell will go a long way in helping you become a better speller for the rest of your life. Another good idea is to use an audio course that teaches spelling through phonics.

Incorrect Word Usage. Good Grief, Charlie Brown! This category is the one that really loses the sale. The author can go through a whole sentence, paragraph, chapter, or even in rare cases, a book, and lose the reader because the wrong word was used. Here's an excerpt from an actual online article to show you what I mean: "...the right amount of investment you should pout into your business." I don't believe the author is really trying to tell us to invest in pouting, and Spell Check will not catch this error. Now that we are all laughing (about pouting), how seriously are we taking the author? What was the author really trying to convey? Other words that bedevil many authors are the use of the words "their", "they're", and "there"? How about "weather" and "whether"? Again, the particular error mentioned above would have surfaced earlier had someone else read the article back to the author. If the author loses his readers' interest prematurely due to incorrect word usage, that lost interest will translate into lost impetus already generated by the author. Lost impetus translates into lack of motion by the reader (e.g., the reader may not finish reading the article, the reader won't click onto the next article or the website, and will not sustain interest in the author). If the author is trying to get notoriety by writing, doesn't it make sense to do everything possible to keep the readers' interest through the end of the article, and indeed even through the footnotes?

Authors, you invite readers to get to know you when you publish articles online or in other media. Let them see the best "you" possible. Don't let your message get lost in the translation or simply bypassed by a distracted reader. Don't let a simple little word leave people laughing at you. Take a little extra time to proofread your work, and have someone read it back to you. Excite your readers with your content and your knowledge base. Entice your readers to continue reading by making your commentary an organized and smooth read from start to finish. Ensure them that you are a professional, that you respect them and can deliver the quality information they seek. Strive to leave your readers with a great "A-Ha!" when they finish your article, leaving them ready to act and interested in the other articles you have to offer, in your website, in your products, and in you.

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