Category Archives: Personal

Posts for to help individuals communicate well in their personal lives.

Why We Give Away Free Stuff


People who communicate well can achieve their goals. Good communication leads to success and strong relationships. On the other hand, poor communication can create hostility or, even worse, indifference. In business, in school, and in many other arenas, good communication depends on the ability to write well.

Our business at Precise Edit is helping people communicate well in writing. We help people write what they mean clearly and in a manner that provokes a desired response. This is more than our job—it’s what we believe in.

In addition to the services we provide and books we sell, we give away a lot of free writing help, free writing resources, and free writing guides. This blog is only one outlet for the free writing instruction we provide.

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Coffee Is Wonderful! (in my opinion)


CoffeeIsWonderful!Coffee is a wonderful beverage. It has a pleasant taste, and it can help you wake up, think clearly, recover quickly after a strenuous workout, and lose weight. People who drink coffee feel good about themselves.

Not so fast, buckaroo.

Some of this may be true, but some is certainly an opinion. Here are the opinions:

  • Wonderful beverage,
  • Pleasant taste, and
  • Feel good about themselves.

Opinions creep into our writing easily, and they can damage our relationship with the reader. When you provide opinions, you don’t respect the readers’ rights to form their own opinions from the facts. In contrast, you create the opportunity for the reader to discredit your authority. Continue reading

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How to Write Your Resume Cover Letter


ResumeJobSearchGiven the state of today’s economy, many people are looking for work. Other than the regular crowd of job-seekers, the recent graduates, the job-changers, and the youth seeking jobs while they go to school, the job market is being flooded with people who have been laid off.

Companies with positions to fill have many applicants from which to choose. What this means is that your cover letter and resume are very important.

Your cover letter, in particular, is often your first interview with a company, the first chance for a hiring agent to get to know you. A good resume cover letter can help you make a good impression and get an interview. A weak cover letter might cause your resume to be placed in the reject pile.

Many of our clients have asked, “What do I put in my cover letter?” And nearly all of our clients have needed assistance with organizing the content of their letters. Below, we will address both of these issues. If you come seeking our help with your resume and cover letter, great. However, the brief guide below should get you started on writing a successful cover letter. Continue reading

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The Brits Got It Right: Punctuation with quotations


To an American writer or reader, British English is pretty easy to spot with its funny spellings: “neighbOUr,” “colOUr,” “programME,” etc. (To be fair, Brits probably find our spellings strange, too.) Maybe this has something to do with their addiction to Bubble and Squeek. I hate to say it, I really do, but British punctuation makes more sense than American punctuation, at least in one regard.

The British punctuation conventions for quotations are more logical than the American English conventions.

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Tip: Major Writing Process, step 5: Edit


Let me give you three quotes that are particularly appropriate here (one of which you have already seen).

  1. “It is perfectly okay to write garbage–as long as you edit brilliantly.” C.J. Cherryh
  2. “Rewriting is the essence of writing well: it’s where the game is won or lost. That idea is hard to accept. We all have an emotional equity in our first draft; we can’t believe that it wasn’t born perfect. But the odds are close to 100 percent that it wasn’t.” William Zinsser
  3. “Rewriting is called revision in the literary and publishing trade because it springs from re-viewing, that is to say, looking at your copy again–and again and again.” Jacques Barzun”

After you write, put away your document for some time. The more involved you are in it, the longer you should put it away. Basically, leave it long enough so that you may see it without preconceptions and without remembering what you were thinking at the time. You need to review it fresh.

Then look at it again. Does it satisfy the purpose for which you wrote it? Have you communicated your ideas clearly? Can you make it more concise without losing essential content? Are the ideas logically presented?

Keep criticizing it, refining it, until it is as good as it can be. Then give it to others (perhaps your editor) to evaluate.

Here’s the main point: Your first draft will need editing. The editing process is what will make your document an effective communication tool, regardless of the genre. Make sure you have time for this stage. It is critical.

Here’s the secondary point: If others recommend (or make) changes, don’t be offended. Expect it. First drafts will always need improvements. As will second drafts.

Quick reminder:

  • Tip 58: Major writing process, step 1: Identify your central idea.
  • Tip 68: Major writing process, step 2: Organize ideas prior to writing, part 1.
  • Tip 78: Major writing process, step 2: Organize ideas prior to writing, part 2.
  • Tip 88: Major writing process, step 3: Analyze the audience, part 1.
  • Tip 98: Major writing process, step 3: Analyze the audience part 2
  • Tip 108: Major writing process, step 4: Write in the Appropriate Style and Tone

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writingtipslogoThis is writing tip 118 from our Writing Tips for a Year series. Please visit PreciseEdit.com to learn more about Writing Tips for a Year and other writing guides by Precise Edit.

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Guns, Bullets, and Bang: Combining Impact Strategies in Writing


A man walks into a bank with a gun in his hand. “Ok, everybody,” he shouts, “lie on the floor! This is a hold-up!” Some people obey immediately, but a few don’t. The man reaches into his pocket and pulls out a handful of bullets. “Get on the floor,” he commands. “I have a handful of bullets!” When that doesn’t provoke the desired response, the man begins throwing the bullets one at a time. The security guards quickly realize that the man has no bullets in the gun. They dodge the bullets the man throws at them, and quickly overpower him.

bankrobber1Why did this man fail to rob the bank? He had the necessary tools, namely the bullets and the gun. His problem, however, was that he used them separately. Each tool had some effect, but they did not help him accomplish his purpose when used alone. In most cases, tools need to be combined to make the greatest impact on your audience, whether people in a bank or people who read your documents. Continue reading

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Does your writing sabotage your credibility?


Unless you string titles after your name (e.g., Ph.D., M.A.), your reader doesn’t know how much education you have. The reader only has the words you write, and your reader will judge your intelligence, education level, and credibility based on how well you write. No, this isn’t fair. 

Dunce CapLet me be perfectly clear about this: The manner in which you write is only loosely connected to your intelligence, education level, and knowledge of the topic. Many intelligent, educated, knowledgeable people write poorly, use ungrammatical sentences, and misspell words. I am convinced that the way a person writes has little to do with his education or intelligence. Your ideas are a far better indicator.

As Claudius Caesar is quoted saying (paraphrased), “Is not what a man says more important than how he says it?” I agree with him. In spite of this, your reader may still judge you unfairly and discredit your ideas based on the way you write. Readers are wrong to do so, but they will.

With that in mind, here are some words, phrases, and expressions (in no particular order) that may cause your reader to ask, “Didn’t this writer ever go to school?”

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