Writing Tips from SCW Member Betty Moss

“Only God is perfect; the rest of us need editing.” – Betty Moss

Betty MossAfter two sessions of reviewing and critiquing at Southern Christian Writers and listening to comments made in response to information provided, I believe most have chosen this group because you are sincerely faithful to your religious beliefs and are inspired to share with others through the written word, certainly great goals. Those I have read show creative imagination, motivation and zeal to improve writing skills, but all are religious genre. I encourage every writer to expand your writing experience with a variety of exercises concentrating on sentence construction, grammar, spelling, punctuation and organization. Choose a subject, such as, “Why trees are green?” If you don’t know, look it up, and write two or three paragraphs sharing your knowledge in as few words as possible or describe King David in three paragraphs. My point is to emphasize construction more than, or at least as much as, the content. Writing exercises on different subjects will help you focus on sentence structure. Before the writer can produce a manuscript, he/she must develop good writing skills. Season writers in this group are eager to help you one on one with critique, and many English composition rule books are available. Take the time to review basic rules and refer to them for guidance.

I don’t pretend to be an expert, and I have had my share of “pouting” over critique, disappointment, rejection and rewrite to see manuscripts published. And I don’t have a single document that is perfect in publication. After years of exposure, I can read any of my manuscripts and find errors, either an original one missed by editors, or misprints left undetected by the publishers. For instance, in a long-ago published book of poetry, I recently discovered a line that read “Here every word.” Imagine my shock when I realized I made the error, the editor failed to correct, and the publisher printed the word. It should have been caught. Every writer should know errors will occur, and they will appear on the printed page. “Only God is perfect; the rest of us need editing.”

However, my profound observation is that those of us who critique provide little guidance when we correct grammar, spelling, punctuation, and point out the need for rewriting a sentence or two without directing the writer to what he needs–an English Composition refresher course, or at least, one-on-one critique. The motivated writer who wishes to succeed must read other author’s work, observe styles, study a good grammar refresher course (many are available online), learn to use a thesaurus, and keep a dictionary at hand. Write something every day with that pen and note pad you should always have with you–in your pocket, purse and on the bedside at night.

Successful writers are avid readers. Enrich your vocabulary by playing a word game. If you see or hear a word you don’t understand, look it up; you’ll know it next time. Pick a subject–any subject; write two paragraphs about that subject. Did you answer these questions; who, what, when, where, why, and how? Did you paint a picture in the fewest words possible with sentences that flow like music? If not rewrite. Repeat this exercise often.

Don’t let the red marks on your critiqued work represent failure or discouragement? See them as a milestone to success guiding you to share your voice and knowledge. When you find your voice, don’t let anyone edit that away from you. Recognize that you will never be perfect, leave your ego at the door, and be grateful knowing you learn something new every day.


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