Will “The Great American Read” Encourage Better American Writing?

Three cheers to PBS for producing  “The Great American Read” and fostering interest in and discussion about great literature. Think what you might about some of the choices, none of the one hundred books on the list has achieved its popularity in spite of having been poorly written or edited. Each might be considered a master class in good writing within its genre. Even a book whose narrative style is intentionally informal, such as The Catcher in the Rye, is an example of good writing and good storytelling.

Nothing I write will ever make it into a national list of favorites, but that doesn’t excuse shoddy technique, poor grammar, or ill-chosen words. Think (again) what you might in this postmodern, post-truth era, but I believe that anything that is worth writing should be written well. That includes, heaven help me, tweets and text messages. Although I’m not the voracious reader that I should be, I try to choose reading material that will help me polish my own communication while introducing me to new ideas, new characters, and new adventures.

What about you? As of this writing there are still five more new episodes of “The Great American Read” to be aired and the first two can be streamed from pbs.org. Check out the list of one hundred books. See if there is one that you haven’t read but that look interesting. Borrow a copy from your local library, and see if it doesn’t plant some thoughts on how you can better communicate.  Post your thoughts here if you feel so inclined. If you want help polishing your communication, consider hiring a professional editor. I might be able to help you find one.

Thanks for stopping by!


A Second Pair of Eyes

A Second Pair of Eyes

A home-improvement contractor drove down our street and stopped in front of our house recently. He was offering free estimates for driveway sealing. I was not in the market for his services, and so I declined the estimate, but I took a business card to be polite.

Everything on the card is spelled properly, but there are several errors in spacing and punctuation. This contractor isn’t offering AP-English tutoring or résumé-writing services, so why should it matter that there are a few errors on his business card? Any small business owner knows that first impressions are important. Regardless of the service that you are offering, the materials that you use to promote your business should give the impression that you are a professional.

Have a second pair of eyes look at your promotional material and even your internal documents that clients don’t see. Those eyes don’t need to belong to a professional editor or proofreader. A detail-oriented family member or friend may catch any errors and may do it for free. If you don’t have ready access to a smart family member or friend, or if the job is too large to ask someone to do for free, hire a professional editor.

I’ve worked in educational publishing for over thirty years. I have experience with the Chicago Manual of Style. I can work with your organization’s house style sheet as well, or even help you create one! I work in Microsoft Word, Google Docs, PDF, and WordPress. Send me a message if you have a document, online or print, that needs a second pair of eyes. Thank you!