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blog | June 26, 2015

Five for Friday: Resources for Editing to Perfection

By David Hopkins

This week, I completed my blog series on Clear Thinking for Great Copy. For writers who need additional guidance, I’m suggesting an online style guide, a software program, an audiobook, an editor-for-hire service, and a writing workshop that has been around since 1977.

1. AP Stylebook Online — I will confess. I prefer the Chicago Manual of Style. However, many businesses and most journalists (including the online variety) opt for AP or a modified AP style. No one has time to read the massive Chicago tome; AP is accessible. Plus, the online version of AP is incredibly useful.

2. Ginger Software — The world has come a long way since Microsoft Word’s spelling and grammar check. Now there’s Ginger. It’s a highly sophisticated piece of software with all the usual grammar/spelling highlighting, plus a handy sentence rephrase function. You can get Ginger for your browser, but be careful using it to write a blog on WordPress. The Ginger highlighting code can creep into your html. It’s a pain. Remember, software like Ginger is intended as a guide only. Ginger is not your robot overlord. You are allowed to disagree with it.

3. Elements of Style audiobook — The book itself is a beloved, breezy guide for writers. Some people swear by Elements of Style as if it were sacred law. I don’t know if I’d go that far, but the 21 reminders in chapter five (“An Approach to Style”) is certainly a thing of beauty. Why the audiobook? Frank McCourt narrates it! His Irish accent is beyond charming, and he brings these ideas to life with his own wry humor.

4. Editor World — I have not used Editor World. I’ve always been in a position where I’m either writing for a publication with an editor on hand, or I have writer friends willing to edit my work in exchange for beer and candy. But if you don’t have a trustworthy editor, this website might help make the match.

5. DFW Writers’ Workshop — If you live in the North Texas region, this organization has been helping writers for several decades. A writers’ workshop is a great place for peer support. For everyone else not in North Texas, look around. I’m sure there’s a group somewhere near you. Check with your local college.

Writing resources can help you keep your head on straight for the task before you, but make sure it’s not a sneaky form of procrastination or an accidental hobby. You can spend a lifetime reading books on how to write without ever sitting down to do the work. The best way to improve as a writer is to start writing. Make your mistakes. Be comfortable with a few bruises. Work through the pain. During that formative process, you’ll find your voice as a writer.