Guest Blogger

Three cheers for Melanie Shoults, my spotlight, guest blogger for the week. Melanie is a great writer with a real eye for quality work. She balances out fun and informative posts while keeping it all professional and relevant. Check out her blog sometime. You won’t regret it! Until then, here is a glimpse of one of her most recent post:

Rough Drafts Are Fun

Image Credit: micn2sugars

Okay, raise your hand if you hate rewriting. Wow.  That’s a lot of you. You just want to throw something on a piece of paper, glance at it, then turn it in, right? That used to be me, too.  I was mostly confident in the stuff I could just pull out of my brain, make sure the grammar was correct, then submit it.

And that worked fine for all my other classes until I got into Journalism. Then, even after rewriting it 10 times, I could turn it in and still have red marks all over it. This bugged me, a lot.

That’s why I loved the (FREE!) NewsU course, Get Me Rewrite that I took a few weeks ago. Not only did it emphasize the importance of rewriting, but it also offered valuable tips and steps for the rewriting process. And because I love lists and step-by-step instructions, this made me super happy!

Here are Chip Scanlan‘s steps, taken from Get Me Rewrite, for working through the rewriting process:

  1. Print out your draft.
  2. Listen to the entire story. During the reading, you can’t write on the draft or comment or respond, just listen.
  3. Read the draft a second time aloud, or silently to yourself, but now every time something strikes you, make a mark at on the manuscript. Nothing more.
  4. Number every mark you’ve made.
  5. Beside each number write down why you flagged that word or passage either on the draft or in a separate file. For example, you might jot down, “cut this,” “check this with source,” etc.
  6. Count up the number of changes and estimate how long each will take you to deal with them all.
  7. Start with the first one — if it’s a misspelled word, change it on the screen, hit save, and move on, cutting, pasting, moving up or down, inserting, as quickly as possible. You may not be able to solve every problem in this revision. But you may the next time around.
  8. Once you have gone through the entire list and made changes save the revision as a new file, hit print, and repeat until you are satisfied.

He also wrote about the 10% rule, trying to cut out 10% of your essay every time you rewrite. I didn’t like this rule, because that’s a pain whenever your essay has to be a minimum of 1,000 words or so. Sometimes I just want to be lazy and submit whatever I have rather than making that essay or article a bunch of really good 1,000 words.

I highly recommend this course to anybody who has to write a lot, especially journalists, who need to write succinctly.

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