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Dawn Josephson

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Write It Right!: The Ground Rules for Self-Editing Like the Pros
by Dawn Josephson  Lauren Hidden 

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Publisher:  Ground Rules Press ISBN-10:  0974496626 Type: 


Copyright:  September 28, 2005

Barnes &

A Must Read for Anyone Who Writes!

Could a misspelled word or grammatical mistake cost you your job? Could a poorly developed idea cause you to lose your readers’ interest…forever? Could poor self-editing skills be a detriment to your career? Yes! Whether you write for profit or for pleasure, whether you write business letters, magazine articles, or e-mails, you need to communicate your ideas clearly. Write it Right: The Ground Rules for Self Editing Like the Pros simplifies the challenging self-editing process by breaking it down into five easy steps. It is the perfect reference tool for anyone who wants to improve their writing—from business people who want to please their clients to authors who want to sell their work. By following the process in this book, writers of all types can finally “write it right!”


Writing well isn’t easy. A 2004 survey by the College Board’s National Commission on Writing found that one-third of today’s workers do not have appropriate writing skills. This means that many brochures are ineffective, reports are unclear, emails are indecipherable, and writing, in general, is way below par.

If you think this statistic doesn’t apply to you because you’re not a professional writer or your job is not writing intensive, think again. We are all writers to some extent. Whether you’re writing a paper for school, a proposal for work, a resume for a prospective employer, or a letter to a client, you need good writing and editing skills to get your point across.

Still, many people do make their full-time living writing. This includes people who write books and articles, as well as those folks who write instruction manuals, ad copy, catalog descriptions, and anything else that’s printed for the world to read. But just because these people write for a living does not mean they know how to write it right. In fact, writing well entails so much more than simply putting words on paper. It’s about fine-tuning those words, crystallizing thoughts, eliminating "fluff," and honing the message.

No matter what kind of writing you do or what kind of writer you are, this book will help you refine your writing and editing skills and enable you to put your best foot forward.

Professional Reviews

Great procedures for editing your work
Whether just an article or an entire novel most of us need to edit our work to give it that professional finish. This book is not a grammar book with all those rules on how to make your work syntactically correct. Instead it takes a larger view and supplies the basics of writing well. For example the "ground rules" include checking to make sure the story is organized well and and checking that paragraphs have a topic sentence that the rest of the paragraph relates to. For each of the ground rules the authors discuss how to check your work to see that it conforms to the rules and how to change it so it does.

The section starting on page 33 is a welcome change from most writing books. The authors suggest that you should identify areas where you have problems and include them on a check list of editing problems to watch for. But, how do you know your problem areas if you don't see the problem? This section gives several examples of sentences with various problems. Find the ones where you don't see a problem, go to the answers section that explains the problem and you have your short list of items to learn about and watch for in your work.

For the person looking to raise their writing quality to a higher level of professionalism Write It Right is a recommended read. - Harold McFarland

A review of Write It Right by Dawn Josephson and Lauren Hidden
Despite the didacticism inherent in the subject matter, this book doesn’t prescribe how you should edit your work. Instead, it leads you down the path of self-discovery, so you can uncover your own weaknesses, and work, as an increasingly experienced editor of your own work, towards cleaner, clearer and better writing. The steps are straightfoward and help you cover just about everything, but the process isn’t easy.

Publishing a book is no longer expensive. Anyone can do it, and everyone seems to be. What is expensive however, and what many authors make the mistake of skimping on, is hiring an editor. That isn’t only an issue for self-published books either. In order to get a decent publishing contract, manuscripts have to be near perfect. However wonderful, poetic and rich the characters, the ideas or the writing in general, if a book needs extensive (or even relatively minor) editing, it won’t be chosen. So learning the art of editing is crucial for modern writers. You could, of course, hire a professional at high cost, but for a mere $17.95, Josephson and Hidden provide some very simple and useable techniques for doing it yourself. Of course there is the obvious financial benefit, but self-editing has other benefits. Firstly, even if you hire someone, the chances are, aside from a line proofread, their advice will be merely guidance, and you’ll still need to do the hard work. Secondly, you are the only one who knows what your intentions are, and self-editing allows you to retain complete control of your manuscript. Even if you are taken on by a big publishing house and get an editor, the more polished your work is, the easier it will be for them to clean up any last little errors. As the authors clearly state, anyone, even those whose writing is limited to business letters or letters to their school board can benefit from improved editing skills. For those writing full length manuscripts, skills in self-editing aren’t optional.

The book is fairly short, simply and clearly written, and follows the clean structure of Other “Ground Rules” publications. Each chapter begins with the “Ground Rules” which talks about the core of the section, and is followed by real-life illustrations and examples, turning points or questions to help with the self-discovery/reflection process, frequently asked questions, and key points. Bullet points, graphics, exercises with blank lines to fill in, and checklists are all used liberally to lighten the text and signal that this book is meant to be used immediately as a workbook. The book contains four steps which can be used in most editing projects, and the more these steps are used, the faster and better writers will be at using them. They begin with knowing what your own particular writing challenges are. These are errors that are specific to your writing and repeated regularly. The book contains a test to help you identify your gaps in grammar, difficulties that you have with sentence structure, overuse of passives, run ons, word repetition and so on. It may surprise you (as it did me) how basic and consistent you are with your problems as you work through some of your existing pieces. As the authors state, knowing where your regular problems lie is half the battle, not just in editing, but in becoming a better writer in general.

Other steps include creating your own personalised editing checklist (based on the list made in step one), changing perspective/stance from writer to editor, reading through the text several times for different purposes, reading through from back to front or choosing sentences at random, getting a colleague to proofread, and read the work aloud to you, and printing out a clean copy for the final proofread. The casual, easy to follow text may make this book appear relaxed, but the prescriptions are anything but. A good editing job means working through the entire text many times - once for each of your regular problems and several more times for good measure. If you do what Write It Right suggests, you will certainly improve your prose; probably to at least the same level as a professional editor. You’ll also be strengthening your writing skills, so that your work needs less editing in general.

The tone of the book is light and affirming, with plenty of positive reinforcement like “Congratulations, you’ve now…,” “go for the gold,” and inspirational quotations. Appendices cover things like how to do a quick edit, what not to do, some basic rules of grammar and usage, and checklists. Despite the didacticism inherent in the subject matter, this book doesn’t prescribe how you should edit your work. Instead, it leads you down the path of self-discovery, so you can uncover your own weaknesses, and work, as an increasingly experienced editor of your own work, towards cleaner, clearer and better writing. The steps are straightforward and help you cover just about everything, but the process isn’t easy. You still have to work through the writing, time and time again, which is the heart of any editing process--there’s no substitute for it. Good editing/revising is the one thing which differentiates great work from average work. Writers who make the techniques in this valuable book part of their regular writing routine will most certainly stand out in a very crowded field, and that, of course, is the name of the game.

Reviewed by Magdalena Ball

Write it Right:
The Ground Rules for Self-Editing Like the Pros
By Dawn Josephson and Lauren Hidden
Cameo Publications
2005, 144pp, pb, ISBN 0-9744662-6, $17.95

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Reader Reviews for "Write It Right!: The Ground Rules for Self-Editing Like the Pros"

Reviewed by Rosemarie Skaine 10/24/2005
Useful book. R
Reviewed by White Dove left 9/26/2005
Wonderful talent...
Lynn Richardson
Reviewed by m j hollingshead 9/22/2005
"Write It Right, The Ground Rules for Self-Editing Like the Pros" is an easily read book sure to become a valuable tool for all who hope to improve their writing whether letters, reports, essays, books or news and magazine articles. I particularly like the format with problems to solve and detailed answers telling how and why particular sentences needed correction. The easily read, breezy method of presentation will hold appeal to those who are bored to tears with academia type grammar texts.

Read full review : AD as article on mj hollingshead

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