Any of my Megacube mates would tell you that in my day job as a marketing writer and editor I’m fearless (and bossy) with a red pen in my hand. However, I’m the first to admit that I can’t diagram a sentence to save my life. Yes, to my shame I suck at the mechanics of grammar. Although I know how to use words, I just can’t tell you why I use them. So I’m always up for articles, classes, etc. on editing, so I can back up my bossiness with hard facts.
In August, 2012 I took a class through WritersOnlineClasses.com (lots of great classes here, btw) called “21 Days to Fog-Free Writing,” taught by Don McNair. As I always do, I checked out Don’s background to be sure I’d actually learn something from him. Well, Don’s edited magazines, produced PR materials, headed his own marketing communications firm, written articles, published non-fiction books, written novels, and now edits novels for other writers…whew! I figured this was a guy I could definitely learn from, so I took the class.
I learned SO much–not only things I could use in my fiction writing, but in my work writing, too. The class focused on cutting out (quoting from Don here) “foggy writing–writing that’s full of unnecessary, misused, and overused words. Foggy writing drives editors crazy, and it’s the number one reason most manuscripts are rejected on first glance.”
Well, with his help I managed to cut several thousand totally non-missed words out of my work in progress, and at the end of the class I gave Don a well-earned glowing review.
Cut to a few months later, and I had an e-mail from Don. He had turned the contents of the class into a book, and he asked if he could use my quote from the class as an endorsement for the “21 Steps to Fog-Free” approach. I told him absolutely. Don was kind enough to send me a copy of the book as thanks. I just finished his book, “Editor-Proof Your Writing: 21 Steps to the Clear Prose Publishers and Agents Crave,” and wanted to recommend it to not only aspiring fiction writers, but anyone who writes in some way for a living or as a hobby.
Don includes not only the all the things I learned in the class, but a whole lot more. He tells you how to put words in (my personal favorite chapter title? “Why you should be a hooker.” Hint: it’s not what you think). He tells you how to take words out–the foggy words, not the important words. He gives you lists and tons of before-and-after examples. He covers information like getting rid of passive voice, dialogue tags, adverbs (my personal bugaboo, she said sorrowfully), avoiding cliches, and (another favorite section) talks about why your eyes can’t wander up the street, or about the room and out the window. Then he even gives some great information about getting your work out there–to critique partners, to agents.
One of the things I liked best about Don’s class, and he retains it in the book, is that he tells you WHY it’s a good idea to do what he suggests. It drives me nuts when people say, “Just do it” and then don’t justify their reasons (much as I do when I edit things at work. Hey, it’s my world, and you’re all just living in it, LOL). Well, by the time you’re done with this book you’ll know why, so you’ll be able to carry that information with you in all future writing. “Editor-Proof Your Writing” is an excellent resource for beginning writers, but experienced writers will be able to learn from it, too.
You can purchase the book from Amazon, and Don has a link to buy it from his website, http://www.mcnairedits.com/. I sincerely hope you’ll check it out; it’s a wonderful reference book for any writer’s library. And I’m sure now that I’ve finished the book, the Girls of Megacube will be cowering in even more fear at the sight of my red pen, heh, heh, heh…<evil laugh>