Get out your red pens, people, because here comes a very disgruntled teacher!
I admit, writing can be tough work. You do your research, brainstorm, and maybe even make an outline before typing up your blog, essay, book, or whatever. The thing is even after all that planning, your first type up is going to have errors. And guess who notices them? Me! Me and all the other keeners surfing the Internet who pay attention to detail. There’s nothing worse than reading a blog with fabulous content and running into all sorts of mistakes.
No matter how good the content, unless you fix up the mechanics, I’m going to be less inclined to read the rest of your post. I might even close out of it. Why? Because proper writing mechanics creates authenticity.You want yourself to be heard, and you want people to respect your opinion. So get out your red pens because this teacher is going to point out three mistakes in most of your blog posts.
1. Typos and Misspellings
Okay, so you made one typo. That’s fine. Those can get overlooked even after editing your post. Two typos, and I’m getting a little antsy. Make it three, and I’m beginning to question whether or not you even bothered to give your blog a second look over. Any more than that, and it drives me crazy.
Spell check doesn’t always catch your mistakes. For a previous post, I typed “their” instead of “there” and almost didn’t catch it. Spell check knows that “their” is a proper word, but it won’t pick up the context and fix it for you. Other commonly mixed up homonyms are “your” and “you’re.” The former is a possessive, the latter the contraction of “you are.” Again, your spell checker won’t correct you on homonyms, nor will it catch misspellings of words like “at” and “her.” So check your work.
2. Those Darn Commas
The comma is the most misused in punctuation. I wouldn’t be surprised if I made a few mistakes in this post. But there are some more glaring errors I find in blogs, in particular the comma splice.
We hear that term comma splice, but what does it actually mean? A comma splice happens when you use a comma to connect two independent clauses. For example: "It’s sunny outside, let’s go get ice cream." There are two sentences here that can both stand on their own. I’ll let you figure out how to separate them. (Hint: you end a sentence with it.)
Rule #2: Commas don’t go after subjects. “The ice cream store I went to yesterday, is the best in town!” Notice the comma? Yeah, that shouldn’t be there. It looks like it should, but “I went to yesterday” is an adjective clause, not an independent clause. That means it gives us more specific information about the ice cream store. It’s still part of the subject. You shouldn’t separate the subject and verb with a comma.
Commas don’t precede prepositional phrases. Prepositional phrases are the ones that include “at, in, on, to” and other equivalents. That’s not too hard to figure out, but I do see the occasional comma slip in before them.
Microsoft Word is pretty good at picking up on the weird commas, but it’s best to check your blog just to be safe.
3. Grammar in General
Word order counts. English needs word order to make sense. If you don’t know if something is working, try reading it aloud to yourself and see how it sounds. If you get an odd feeling from it, there’s probably something wrong. When in doubt, ask a friend.
Native speakers don’t tend to get word order wrong, but they can mess up on subject verb agreement. Usually this is because of a simple typo. Your subjects and verbs just want to get along and live in harmony on the page. Don’t trouble them with forgetting to add that “s” when talking about “he” or “she.” What can really mess you up is if you decide to switch POVs and forget to fix your verbs. A once or twice over will catch that, though…hopefully.
I might add that I’m not a fan of run on sentences. They drive me up the wall. In fact, when I wrote the first two sentences in this paragraph, I mistakingly used a run on. It happens, but you can always check your work. Here’s a nice example to show you what I mean, complete with a rant:
Do you wanna hear what I did yesterday? i wrote this freakishly long sentence just to mess up the other teachers went home feeling satisfied with my hard work of screwing with others’ reading it was so funny haha and Holy crap! Can you just use a freaking period? I can’t read that! Don’t write it, don’t text it, and don’t curse the comment section and forums with it. Please, I’m begging you! Would it kill you to use punctuation? Those “i’s” need capitalizing, too, while you’re at it. I have a hard enough time marking my students’ work. I don’t need your poor writing mechanics to add to my madness. I would love to read with the least amount of difficulty possible, thank you.
And rant over. You get the point.
Even blog posts, like this one, which are written like you speak need to be edited. Proper writing looks professional no matter how casual it may sound. Proper writing is more trustworthy, authentic, and will keep your readers coming back for more. If you’re having that much trouble, or you don’t think you can catch all your mistakes, get someone else to look over it. I don’t mind checking it over for you, providing it’s not several pages long.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go quadruple check this blog post just to make sure it doesn’t have any of the glaring errors I just mentioned. Chances are it does and I’m just shooting myself in the foot by not practicing what I preach. But at least you get a decent read out of it.
Oh yeah. I almost forgot the call to action. So here’s the question: do you check your work before you publish it, and if so, how many times? Until next time, this is the disgruntled editor. I seriously need a virtual red pen to take out my fury on the Internet. The Jigglypuff of the modern age, I tell you.