More Advice And Tips For Freelance Writers
In this article we look at another top 10 tips for freelance writers including paragraphs, revision, editing, using quotes, paraphrasing, hooks, style and more.
No.1 – Keep Your Paragraphs Compact
Watch the length of your paragraphs. Some beginning writers simply cannot get it into their heads that paragraphs should not be too long. Study your publication first. In many instances a paragraph is simply one sentence. Sometimes two or three, short sentences but rarely more.
How long should a paragraph be? While there are no strict rules, it’s a good idea to begin a new paragraph every time you introduce a fresh idea. This is a cue that the story has taken a turn and new information is to follow.
However, this can sometimes mean that paragraphs become overly long, especially if you are exploring a theme or idea extensively. If your paragraphs are running to more than four sentences, have a think about each sentence and how it relates to the one before. If the sentence doesn’t rely on or directly flow on from the previous one, then a new paragraph could be started.
No.2 – Revise & Rewrite
Many freelance writers dislike rewriting what they have already written. Almost any article can be improved the second time around. Follow up a third and fourth time, especially if you continue to improve the content and structure. Remember, there is a lot to consider beyond checking spelling.
A strong lead, improved readability, grammatical mistakes, accuracy, the simple flow of your story. Each time you look at something you have written you can usually find a way to improve it.
No.3 – Use Quotes Only When Necessary
Only use a quote if it serves a purpose. Using a quote for the sake of variety or to achieve a ‘word count’ is like jamming a theatre stage with actors for no reason – it will only confuse the story and the audience.
In saying that, almost any article will benefit from the use of quotes. Avoid slabs of narrative. Quotes breathe life into any story and also provide authority. Correct use of quotes will surely enhance any article.
Always introduce a quote with a sentence or two that places it in a context. That doesn’t mean telling the reader what’s in the quote, just ensuring that the reader is anticipating whatever follows.
No.4 – Exercise Caution When Paraphrasing
Paraphrasing is where you restate what the subject has said to fit the story you’ve written. When you paraphrase a subject’s quotes, you don’t use quotation marks. Instead, you relay what was said in your own words.
However, it is important to note that paraphrasing is a very dangerous practice because it can change the context – and meaning – of what was actually said.
No.5 – Keep The Context Simple
Many beginning writers believe they will impress by being as complicated as possible. Not so. Being creative in your writing does not mean being complex or sounding intellectual. Being simple in your writing does not mean being dull or imply a lack of intellect. The simpler your writing reads, the better it will be.
The whole idea of writing is to communicate. You do not want to make your readers struggle. When you write simply it means that more of your readers can understand what you are saying. Most certainly this approach will not offend your more educated or intellectual readers.
No.6 – Begin With A Great ‘Lead’
The ‘lead’ is your opening sentence, sometimes called the ‘intro’. It’s one of the most important parts of your story because it needs to ‘hook’ readers and encourage them to read on. Keep your leads tight and punchy.
No.7 – The End Is As Important As The Beginning
You cannot end an article by introducing new elements. You can only end it by drawing elements already discussed to a close.
No.8 – ‘Fewer than’ OR ‘Less Than’
It’s a simple rule to learn – Fewer than is for numbers. Less than is for quantities.
No.9 – Use Short Sentences
Two short sentences are better than one long one.
No.10 – Understand the ‘Style’ Requirements of Publications
The more you stray from a publication’s in-house style, the less chance there is of your article being accepted. These signal to the editor that you have not done your homework.
All publications have their own style and editorial policies. These apply to subject matter, length, style and approach. You should know the slant that the publication takes. Is it a family slant, a teen slant, a technical slant?
What is the average article length in the publication that you plan to write for? If it is 800 words, it is unlikely your 2000 word feature will be accepted. Many publications rely heavily on cult jargon. This applies particularly to the teen market including surfing, skateboard and music magazines.
You generally need an insider’s knowledge of the subject to write in the style. But you have to understand the publication beforehand to know this.