A brief note to writers on what your reader expects of you.
|From your Reader
I've not been on this site that long, but...there are a few things I have to say to writers.
First, SPELL CHECK. Okay guys, once upon a time this was a laborious process but, let's face it, anybody posting online is using some sort of word processing program. If so, there is an easy way to do a quick spell check. Is it perfect? No. You are still responsible for knowing the difference between red and read, or to, two, and too. Not bothering to spend a few minutes of your time spell checking makes me feel you don't value my time.
Second, edit and cut. Yes, I am asking you to cut some of your wonderful work before I see it. Many years ago I took a class with a well known photographer (pre-digital, mind) and he said that the way he maintained his reputation was making sure people saw only the best 10% of his work. There is something to be said for that. Editing out at least 10% and preferably 25% of your longer pieces will strengthen your work. Cut back on those long, pointless descriptions and drop all the peripheral information that you may need to develop you character but I don't need to read about. Think of it as pruning your creative orchard.
Third, read it before you post it. I mean it. Print out your work, stand up (go ahead, no one is watching,) and read it OUT LOUD. Why? If you are reading out loud you are forced to slow down, pay attention to the individual words, and hear how the sentences sound as a whole. It is an eye-opener at times, believe me. Have your red pen handy.
Last, if you are really serious, find yourself a first reader. Ideally your first reader is a grammar wonk as well as an interested reader. Posted reviews are not going to cover the use of commas or the proper placement of an apostrophe, but as a writer you need to have some idea of how to use grammar and punctuation. The next best thing is to use the knowledge of someone else. It may hurt, but take their criticism seriously. Do you have to do everything they suggest? Of course not. You do need to think seriously about it though.
I am not a perfect speller, I didn't learn to break down a sentence in school, and I am the first to admit I am not a great writer. What I am is a reader. YOUR READER. Don't bore me, don't talk down to me, and DON'T ACT LIKE MY TIME ISN'T IMPORTANT. There are lots of other things to read in the world (even on this site) so it's your job to make me feel my time is well spent. Make me want to come back to your writing.
Last of all, thank you to those writers who do.