If you are reading this freelance writing blog, I hope that you are either pursuing a writing career as a freelance writer – or otherwise – or that you are interested in writing better. Although there are many professional writers who become writers and stay writers without traveling down any of the various literary forks in the road, I have wandered over to the editing side from time to time.
Being an editor is a great way to improve your writing quality and learn how to write more like a professional writer. They say that there is no better way to really learn something than to teach it to someone else. This is true because someone else will not take the same things for granted that you take for granted and you will actually have to fully evaluate all that you do and do not know. Also, when you teach a skill like writing to another person, you have to really understand what you are talking about. Otherwise, you and your student will come to some confusing situations where you are left saying something like, “Well, that’s just the way it is,” or, “That’s what I was told once.” Neither of those are very comfortable statements to make.
Certain editors end up being writing teachers as well as editors, based in large part upon the quality of the writers they are working with. Some writers need no editing other than a second set of eyes to help catch typos, while other writers need a lot of instruction in the craft of writing. This is especially true of those writers who are good, knowledgeable writers, but who may never have written professionally before. Sadly, many of these writers suffer from either never having had a good English teacher in school, or having not put enough effort into what was being taught.
Be that as it may, these good — but not professional quality — writers make one mistake over and over again. For our purposes, we will call it Forgetting People Know How To Read Syndrome.
Common Writing Errors New Pro Writers Make
What are the symptoms of FPKHTRS?
The main symptom of FPKHTRS is trying to tell the reader what happens when he or she reads something, followed by telling them how to continue reading. As you can see, this is not only unnecessary, but the mark of amateur writing.
FPKHTRS Symptoms List
- Writing the words, “This article/paragraph/story/section is about…” When they read it, they will know what it is about. If you are a high-quality writer, they will know what it is about thanks to your topic sentence, but either way, there is no need to spell it out.
- Writing the words, “Keep reading,” or “Read below,” or “Turn the page.” Folks, everyone knows that the rest of the words underneath the ones you just wrote are the words that come next. There is no need to direct them down there. Rest assured that your reader does not read your fine introductory paragraph about dying dog collars blue and then wonder, “Hmmm, I wonder where the author would provide additional information about this subject. If only there were a line that said, “Keep reading below for how to dye dog collars a new color.” They know that the rest of the knowledge you provide is down below or on the next page.
- Asking the reader questions about whether they want to know more. The copywriting technique of leaving them wanting more, or even directly asking the reader if they want to find out more is designed to move the person AWAY from the current article or story to an new place to find out information. It is NOT used to move readers to the next paragraph or section. “Would you like to find out more about dog collar dyes?” at the end of a paragraph is not a useful conclusion or lead-in to your next section about dyes for dog collars. Just end your paragraph or section. Trust me, your reader knows that if they want to find out more, they should keep reading.
Quality writing does not require leading the reader to the next information. Knowledge and info should flow naturally from one part of an article to another. Stick with creating quality topic sentences and introductory paragraphs and you will have no need to tell your reader to keep going.