Your Ultimate Online Proofreading Guide for Better Writing

Online Proofreading Guide. Photo Credit – Flickr: tonxA proofreading guide is like a dessert menu.

It presents the third course to your creation meal that involved writing as a first course and editing as a second course.

Since proofreading is the last step you take before publishing, it’s obviously an important one—you want to ensure perfection.

It’s heartbreaking to find an error in a final document that has already been released for the world to see.

But before proofreading is the most appropriate revision procedure, there are important steps that you can take during the writing process to make sure your message is strong and direct.

Unlike the first edition of my proofreading guide, which only explained proofreading techniques, the second edition of Your Ultimate Online Proofreading Guide also establishes methods to keep your thoughts clear and organized while you write and edit. [Read more…]

The Differences Between Copy Editing, Proofreading, and Reading

Copy Editing, Proofreading. Photo Credit – Flickr: Terry FreedmanThe differences between copy editing, proofreading, and reading are commonly considered subtle.

For instance, if I happened to mention in conversation that I’m a “freelance proofreader and copy editor,” it may seem that I’m referring to the same occupation.

In contrast, if I said that I’m a “neuroscientist and farmer,” it would appear that I have two separate careers.

It is clear that neuroscience and farming are different practices that require distinct educational prerequisites, skills, and expertise.

The technical differences between copy editing and proofreading are too boring to explain, and I’ve created Revision Fairy proofreading services so that you can invest in producing a quality product without having to pinpoint the exact type of help you need before I review your work.

If you know you need to specifically hire a copy editor or proofreader, you may already know the differences between copy editing and proofreading.

If you don’t know the differences between the two activities, and aren’t seriously interested in hiring a professional proofreader, you may regard both copy editing and proofreading as just reading and making some corrections. [Read more…]

You’re the Master Storyteller: On Writing & Editing Your Life

How to Overcome Heartbreak Without Projectile VomitingYour right hand lifts your coffee mug to your lips, and you take a sip of the beverage that will activate your editing sensibilities.

After the drink’s vessel rests securely back on your desk, you look at your computer monitor, blink a few times, and glance down at your keyboard as you fiddle with your mouse.

Since you’ve already completed a rough draft of your writing, improving it should be simple.

Nonetheless, editor’s block has plugged the flow of your creative juices.

How do we end up in situations that require literary Drano?

A rough draft is the first step in the writing process, but you must stay vigilant.

The words that we initially transcribe aren’t always the purest and most accurate manifestations of our intentions.

You get to manipulate your creation until it satisfies your vision.

The evolution of a document is comparable to the evolution of human character.

We encounter editor’s block in our writing for the same reasons we get stuck in life:

We’ve made choices that have produced a present unhappiness and don’t feel we’re capable of making new choices that will alleviate our frustrations.

We’ve fallen down a well, and there’s nothing but darkness.

We don’t know how to get out. [Read more…]

Artist Intent: The Role of a Medium Who Talks

Artist Intent. Photo Credit – Flickr: incurable_hippieIn the chapter, “Interpretation and Identification,” in The Transfiguration of the Commonplace, Arthur Danto considers two painting, J and K, that are “distinct, enormously different works, however visually indiscernible.”

The following example depicts a similar case to highlight Danto’s art philosophy argument.

The Creations of John and Kevin

John is in his fourth year of art school at the undergraduate level and still feels he has learned nothing about what makes a creation a work of art.

His drawings are drastically different from other students’ drawings in his classes, yet they are all treated as works of art during his class critiques. John’s drawings appear three-dimensional and resemble photographs, while many of his classmates do not approach art through realism, and instead produce, what John considers, very juvenile drawings. Nonetheless, these drawings are evaluated, put on display in school art shows, and considered art by everyone John comes in contact with, in the same fashion that his drawings are considered art.

One day, John gets fed up with producing art for a college that is going to consider anything he produces a work of art. He no longer wants to spend time using care and precision in his drawings to make them look like photographs. John decides that since his work will be treated as art regardless of what it looks like, he might as well not even physically produce the art himself.

To complete his work for the remainder of his time in art school, John designs a computer program that randomly generates “art.” The software produces colors and shapes that form a composition, and the only effort John puts into creating an artwork is pressing a “generate art” button. When John hears his classmates and professors try to analyze what the colors and shapes could represent in the first work that his software produces, he laughs to himself because he knows that no artistic intent went into the creation of the work. The composition took virtually no time to create and symbolizes nothing for John. [Read more…]

Philosophy of Art Versus Aesthetics

Philosophy of Art. Photo Credit – Flickr: dogwelderAre tattoos meaningless markings or a possible form of 
self-beautification or self-expression?

What purpose does it serve to discuss tattoos as possible works of art?

Immanuel Kant discusses tattoos as a possible form of self-beautification in The Critique of Judgment. He writes:

We could add much to a building that would immediately please the eye, if and only if it was not to be a church. We could adorn a figure with all kinds of spirals and light but regular lines, as the New Zealanders do with their tattooing, if only it were not the figure of a human being.

It is Kant’s position that the Maori, who tattoo their faces, do not produce anything beautiful with tattooing because they disrupt the human’s inherent form. The tattoo designs, themselves, might be beautiful but not if they are manifested on a human being. The beauty of a human being, for Kant, depends on the human’s natural form. Adding a tattoo to a human being is an inorganic act and therefore not beautiful, he concludes. [Read more…]

Tattoo Philosophy Simplified

The Philosophical Functionality of the Tattoo: A Philosophy of ArtI’m just as bored as you are when That Girl explains to a group of adoring imbeciles why she has an enigmatic symbol tattooed on her shoulder—a result of too many tequila shots.

I get it.

Individual tattoo philosophy stories are not necessarily interesting, but tattoo creation narratives contribute to the general ontology of Art.

If tattoos are used as a form of artistic expression, why does someone choose skin for their creations rather than another material or medium?

Why is skin the most appropriate canvas for an idea?

Can a tattoo sometimes be art and sometimes just a marking?

How do you distinguish which is the case?

If That Girl is foolish for getting a tattoo while inebriated, does it follow that a person can never create artwork while intoxicated?

Is That Girl potentially an artist? Why, or why not? [Read more…]

Dealing With Heartbreak for Men

Dealing With Heartbreak for Men. Photo Credit – Flickr: nataliejDefining your target audience is the first and arguably most important step when beginning a new piece of writing.

Who’s interested in your topic?

Why are they interested?

How can your words capture their attention, hold their interest, and help them solve a problem?

Even self-involved and self-centered creations and works of art have an audience; it may be the creator herself, but there’s still an ideal viewer.

You need to understand that person.

The first version of my book about heartbreak felt like a good fit somewhere under the umbrella of “women readers.”

A female author writing a collection of personal essays about dealing with heartbreak would likely address the topic from a woman’s perspective and attract a female audience.

I ran with this idea for about six months, but then a number of things happened, and I found my initial manuscript trite and boring.

The over-saturated market of women writing about relationships and dating advice didn’t seem to need my input.

I looked at my project objectively and saw nothing new or different—and it wasn’t an issue additional editing or proofreading could fix. [Read more…]

On Erections & Nonfiction Essays

Nonfiction Essays. Photo Credit – Flickr: mugley

“All our final decisions are made in a state of mind that is not going to last.” Marcel Proust

Many creations begin with the intent to communicate an emotion or state of mind.

Nonfiction essays are no exception, but unlike works of fiction, nonfiction writing rests upon a straightforward notion that the writer and reader share the same reality.

Instead of transporting you to a fictional universe with imagined circumstances and characters, the nonfiction writer observes and deconstructs the world that is already familiar to the reader.

With fiction, there is an implied distance between the writer and the manuscript and necessary space between the writer and the reader. The story is disconnected from the author.

This is also the case in some nonfiction work, but reflective, prescriptive, or philosophical essays tend to incorporate the author. The reader views a topic through the writer’s mind.

This type of nonfiction writing can cause an uneasiness and anxiety for the author when a piece of text is published, promoted, or read at a later time. The essay may have been erected from an emotion or state of mind that no longer exists for the author.

The erection is fleeting; the creation is permanent.

Does such a case affect a nonfiction essay’s authenticity? [Read more…]

Can Anyone Write a Book About Heartbreak?

Book About HeartbreakApproach any person walking down the street, male or female, and he’ll have at least three stories to tell you from his book of love gone wrong.

The passive-aggressive grow bitter with these stories, the proactive overcompensate, the cunning seek revenge, and the obsessive philosophize about them.

We’re exploring the last category.

While everyone experiences heartbreak, each brokenhearted tale has a unique fingerprint that defines each individual.

You own your heartbreak in the game of romance, and it’s not a single-player configuration.

Heartbreak is commonly and understandably—but incorrectly—interpreted as a personal attack; we feel hurt, and don’t see anything beyond the pain. It’s all about what’s being done to us.

A heartbreaker breaks the heart of the heartbreakee.

Except it’s not that precise.

The heartbreaker has a better perspective of the heartbreak than the heartbreakee.

Those who break our hearts can often see ourselves more clearly than we can. While our minds are clouded with idealism and fantasy, they see reality. And they see that we are meant for something else. [Read more…]

How to Be Smart in a World Full of Dumb Tattooed People

Photo Credit – Flickr: Nina Matthews PhotographyThey’re so gross, aren’t they?

I don’t know the exact group of people you have beef with, but I’m sure you have beef. Humans love disliking other groups of people because we love to blame everything that is wrong on someone or something else.

Our perceptions of what is wrong are innately external. You would prefer a situation to be different, but it’s not, so your human instinct decides to be pissed off about it.

Unfortunately, facts aren’t going to magically change just because you don’t like them, and excessive lamenting is a waste of energy.

Let’s focus on energy for a minute.

We all want more energy—especially in a society where “tired” and “busy” are common, acceptable, and often preferred responses to the question “how are you?”

Everyone has important tasks to accomplish and feels there is never enough time to get it all done. Energy helps us execute our to-do lists.

So, why do we waste so much energy “liking” and “disliking?” [Read more…]

What Tattoos Can Teach Us About Art & Writing

The Philosophical Functionality of the Tattoo: A Philosophy of ArtTen years ago, the two words that most accurately described my identity were “philosophy” and “tattoos.”

Philosophy consumed my life as an undergraduate student, and tattoos were my favorite hobby—one that I incorporated into my studies as much as possible.

When it came time to pick a topic for my honors thesis before my senior year, the decision was a no-brainer.

Justifying my topic to the faculty in the philosophy department at my college was another story.

Since anthropology was one of my minors (studio art was the other), the philosophy professors were quick to dismiss my idea of using tattoos as a focus for a philosophical examination of art.

Luckily, my faculty advisor saw potential in my perspective and convinced his peers to hear more about my paper in a meeting.

The objections that I faced stated the obvious: [Read more…]

Philosophical Functionality of the Tattoo: A Philosophy of Art

The Philosophical Functionality of the Tattoo: A Philosophy of ArtItems I wrote less than eight weeks ago often embarrass me, so I expected to be horrified when I sat down to read my college honors thesis from eight years ago.

Even though it can be painful to review old pieces of writing because the editor in me doesn’t refrain from noticing room for improvement, the process energizes my creative sensibilities for new projects.

Since my forthcoming philosophical Percocet, How to Overcome Heartbreak Without Projectile Vomiting, is an argument about heartbreak’s role in identity formation, I thought it would be helpful to review the structure of my long-forgotten philosophical argument about art.

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed reading the essay, so I turned it into a 75-page book that’s divided into six chapters:

 

The Philosophical Functionality of the Tattoo: A Philosophy of Art

 

Introduction: The Philosophy of Art

Part I: Traditional Art and Tattoo Art

Part II: The Conditions for the Creation of Tattoo Art

Part III: How Does Tattooing Evoke New Ideas About Art?

Part IV: The Function of an Animate Medium

Conclusion: The Missing Link in Danto’s Theory

You can download the book for free here. [Read more…]

Revision Strategies Recap 2012

Revision Strategies. Photo Credit – Flickr: remediate.thisHow often do you hope that everything will be “perfect” right away?

Are you frustrated if your expectations for a situation aren’t immediately met?

Writing is an artistic craft that requires many different forms of corrections before you produce a final product that satisfies your intentions.

You can also apply a focused revision strategy in life as a way to consistently participate in the creation of your reality.

If you don’t get something “right” on the first try, do you review your actions, evolve your outlook, and try new things—molding and shaping your existence until it’s closer to what you want it to look like?

Or do you give up your personal responsibility to make necessary improvements? Or give in when your efforts seem futile, conforming your behavior to match the external chaos?

The process of evolution is just that—a process—not a quick fix. [Read more…]

Comma Chameleon: When to Use a Comma

When to Use a Comma. Photo Credit – Flickr: duncanNothing like a little Culture Club pun to liven up an otherwise dense conversation about when to use a comma, right?

A subscriber recently wrote me this interesting question about overwhelming comma rules:

Dear Stefanie,

I write textbooks and often get pulled up for my comma usage. I was always taught that it marks a pause in the sentence but this rule doesn’t seem to work all the time.

A lot of comma usage can be down to individual taste it seems and you might be a heavy or light user. I think there may also be some US/UK differences (I am from the UK by the way).

I have consulted the Chicago Manual of Style and I see that there are endless pages on how to use commas in a variety of different situations.

To get to my point, I was wondering if you had a simple guide for comma usage that works and isn’t overly complicated to put into practice.

Thanks for your help. [Read more…]

Permission to Be Bad, Real Bad, Michael Jackson

Photo Credit – Flickr: dBRYJ MusicWriting a rough draft is not only a necessary step, it’s the most important part of writing.

Keeping ideas in your head stifles the creative process.

You have to write your thoughts so that you can manipulate them properly.

If you try to perfect every detail in your mind, your work won’t reach the level of greatness that it can when you edit your ideas in the physical world.

Once you have a draft, you have the invaluable opportunity to review your creation and say to yourself, “That really doesn’t make sense. How can I make it better?”

But the fear of sounding bad can often make a writer freeze up.

If it doesn’t sound perfect right away, there’s no point of writing at all. You’ve failed at writing. Perfection or nothing. A pretty common insecurity, right? [Read more…]

What a Blog Without Comments Can Teach You About Managing Your Workload

Before I published content on this site, the concept of adding a “blog” to my workload was daunting.

Responding to reader comments and filtering spam is time consuming. I didn’t know if I could commit to it.

So, I created an outlet for my writing that is more like a traditional newspaper or magazine. I don’t have a comments section following my articles.

In the days of old media, you didn’t have the chance to sound off right away. If you wanted to comment on an article or feature, you had to write a Letter to the Editor.

And only a few select letters were published in the next edition.

What part of this process appeals to me? [Read more…]

5 Shortcuts for Proofreading Documents in Record Time

Proofreading Documents. Photo Credit – Flickr: jayneanddIn the past, I’ve provoked some outraged responses when I’ve written tips about proofreading your own documents.

Variations of “You simply can’t find your own writing mistakes! You need someone else to proofread your work for you!” have echoed through blog comments when I’ve addressed this apparently taboo topic.

I understand the sentiment, but I think that the benefits of working with a freelance copy editor or proofreader are obvious.

When a writer can also proofread like a professional proofreader, she is in a unique position to create a product that communicates her exact intentions. [Read more…]

12 Editing Solutions When Your Writing Isn’t Good Enough

Editing Solutions. Photo Credit – Flickr: Sharon DrummondDoubt.

If you’re a writer, the d-word plagues you daily.

Is your writing good enough? Is your writing ever going to be good enough?

Writing confidently is more than just feeling good about the thoughts that exit your brain and form neatly arranged words in a document.

To remove doubt, old-fashioned TLC has to be an integral part of your artistic lifestyle.

Here are 12 editing solutions that help you care for yourself and your writing. [Read more…]

Freelance Confessions: Confronting the Unsolicited Copy Editor

Freelance Copy Editor. Photo Credit – Flickr: doobybrainI cringe—CRINGE!—at the thought of something that I used to do.

It’s something that you may have done at some point, too.

When you first start working as a freelance copy editor, you want to make it known whenever possible that you excel at spotting writing mistakes.

On a very basic level, the ability to find and correct errors is the skill set that you need to monetize; you have to show others that you have the eagle eye that they need to fix their copy. [Read more…]

Learn 15 Common Grammar Mistakes in Less Than 5 Minutes

Common Grammar Mistakes. Photo Credit – Flickr: Mary Lee HahnThe Internet is oodles and oodles full of special sauce.

Today’s flavor? Grammar.

If you don’t internalize a grammar lesson, it’s not going to prevent you from making the same error again in the future. The tip must be easy to comprehend and practical.

I love concise guides that actually make a difference the next time that you sit down to write. [Read more…]

Online Writing Help 101: Business Email Etiquette

Online Writing Help. Photo Credit – Flickr: Ann DouglasIn my last post, I discussed an ineffective way to engage a service provider when you’re looking online for writing help.

To complement my report on what you shouldn’t do, it’s appropriate to outline a refresher on business email etiquette—what you should do.

When you visit my website, the Proofreading Service Menu lists the following pricing structure: [Read more…]

If You Don’t Like What I Charge, Get Lost

Photo Credit – Flickr: allaboutgeorgeA wise woman once said:

“My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard. And they’re, like, it’s better than yours. Damn right, it’s better than yours. I could teach you, but I’d have to charge.”

Yes, I’m talking about the 2003 pop hit, “Milkshake,” by Kelis—the song that was once my ringtone on my old NOKIA flip phone.

Still with me?

I often discuss my proofreading services as a business. Though this may seem obvious, there’s something about the Internet that gives people the impression that what you offer is less valuable than, say, if I offered in-person writing and proofreading services.

I recently got an email that exemplifies what online business owners tend to experience. [Read more…]

Why Revision Fairy?

Proofreading Services. Photo Credit – Flickr: campraI offer online proofreading services, but I’m not actually a proofreader.

I’m not actually a copy editor, either.

My creative work with words varies.

Sometimes, I proofread.

Sometimes, I copy edit.

Sometimes, I do both.

Sometimes, I rewrite rough drafts.

Sometimes, I write original content.

The thing is: writers don’t always know what they need.

That’s why I created Revision Fairy. [Read more…]

Need to Hire a Small Business Writer? Start Here.

Small Business Writer. Photo Credit – Flickr: Artois BibliothèquesIf you need to hire a small business writer, there are a number of prerequisites that you should figure out before you approach candidates.

It’s not all about the writer’s qualifications.

Communication is key when forming a new business relationship.

Once you establish guidelines for your writer, it’s also easier to find the perfect person for the job.

Here’s a 20-point checklist to review as you search for a small business writer. [Read more…]

Introducing Free Proofreading Services: Get a Sample Today!

Free Proofreading Services. Photo Credit – Flickr: ElectraSteph

UPDATED APRIL 25, 2012 —

Free samples are no longer available. Please refer to my Proofreading Service Menu for standard prices.

I don’t offer free proofreading services.

Proofreading is not a hobby for me. It’s not a complimentary service that I help you with in my spare time.

Proofreading is what I do.

But a free proofreading sample?

That’s a different story.

It’s my business to help you with your business. [Read more…]