The Write Stuff
September 2012 Volume 8 Issue 9
Learning From Others’ Mistakes
My editing clients receive two files, one redlined and the other clean. The redline is valuable for two reasons: it provides a way to see exactly what I did, and it serves as an educational tool. With the latter goal in mind–to enhance your writing IQ–here are a few things I corrected over the past month.
Original: You’ll fair well by taking our advice.
Corrected: You’ll fare well by taking our advice.
This is a tricky homonym. So tricky, in fact, that I looked up “fair” and “fare” to ensure my initial reaction–that “fair” was wrong–was correct. It’s easy to use Word or do an Internet search to find definitions; I recommend doing that anytime you have even the slightest doubt about whether you’re using the right word. Better safe than embarrassed!
Original: I’ve personally taken several companies public.
Corrected: I’ve taken several companies public.
This is a less is more situation. “Personally” doesn’t add value to the sentence; how else could this person have acted, impersonally? As you review your writing efforts, focus on “extra” words that can be removed without changing the message.
Original: Our program includes a 12 month sales cycle.
Corrected: Our program includes a 12-month sales cycle.
The poor hyphen; it’s so often forgotten…but oh so necessary. “Two-minute mile,” “three-hour movie,” “15-part series” and the clause in the sentence above are just a few examples of when hyphenation is required. (In case you’re curious, I used “two” and “three” as per AP Style, which calls for spelling out numbers under 10.)
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