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The secret to being a better writer

You’ve written an outstanding story or blog post with insightful commentary, pointed analogies, and flowery prose that would make Shakespeare cry. But if your writing is full of spelling and grammar errors, you might as well have just passed gas in public.


Inside every good writer should be a good editor. Luckily, the web is full of tips for keeping your writing in check. The first stop for any writer should be the the American Copy Editors Society’s collection of links that includes writing headlines, avoiding clichés and of course, copy editing tips.

Daily Writing Tips is another must-read for any writer looking to improve his or her craft. After reading posts like 8 Proofreading Tips And Techniques, How to Revise, Edit and Proofread Your Writing, and English Grammar 101: All You Need to Know, you will have immediately improved your writing know-how.

Patricia T. O’Conner, a former editor at The New York Times Book Review, author and blogger at Grammarphobia.com, also has a few quick tips for correct punctuation, including proper comma placement and when to use the overused apostrophe.

Smashing Magazine has a great list of the top ten web typography sins, including using hyphens instead of em dashes and including extra spaces in copy. Even better is Copyblogger’s list of five grammatical errors that make you look dumb, including the dreaded its vs. it’s (hint: if you mean “it is” or “it has,” use an apostrophe).

If copy editing is a consistent problem and you are a glutton for punishment, GooseGrade, upon its release, will let users correct the mistakes in your writing. Readers are readying their red pens as we speak.

A perfectly written story doesn’t mean jack if the headline sucks. Especially now that SEO and keywords and all that has come into play, creating an attention-grabbing headline has become even more difficult. Never fear, though. Condomunity has a stellar and detailed post about how a well-written headline makes all the difference and how to create a good one.

Even more headline writing advice can be found at Copyblogger and in this previous post on writing better headlines.

Once you’ve got your own wordplay under wraps, it’s time to laugh at the mistakes of others. Start by checking out the posts at Regret the Error, especially the gaffe committed by the New Hampshire-based Valley News, which misspelled its own name in its masthead. Logophiles will also enjoy the English Fail Blog, a series of photos of bad grammar captioned in the style of I Can Has Cheezburger?

And, of course, feel free to laugh and point should there be any glaring errors in this post. See? You’re a better writer already!

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