Arranging Words

What is the deal about arranging words? What could possibly be so important about the way an author puts words on to paper? Can it really make a difference? After all, as long as you transmit the message correctly, that is what the most important thing is about writing. Right?

Is punctuation that necessary? Is there truly a right place and a wrong place to insert commas properly? And periods? And what about question marks? Must we really capitalize some words, and not others?

What about those other, weird, punctuation marks? You know, things like colons and semi-colons, parentheses and quotation marks. Unfortunately, there are a lot rules for using those different markings in your writing.

You have to pay attention to those rules. If you do not, people reading your work will not be able to make heads or tails out of your writing. (There’s another question and fodder for another blog–who came up with those sayings, like “heads or tails.”)

Paying attention to the rules of writing is very important for all writers. If you are a freelance magazine writer, disregarding all those rules of writing tends to make magazine editors disregard you as a serious writer.

If you are a budding novelist, if you have a tendency to ignore the rules, agents, editors, and publishers tend to ignore both you and your work. More than likely, you will begin collecting a number of rejection letters–which someone wrote carefully in accordance to the rules. 

Other types of authors who cannot afford to break the rules of writing are the authors of resumes and cover letters. Nothing screams, “I am not worth hiring!” more loudly than a cover letter written by a job applicant who does not know the difference between “to,” “too,” “two,” or the numeral “2.” Oh yes, there is also the difference between effect and affect, further and farther, and more. 

Writing and arranging words goes a long way beyond merely putting pen to paper, clacking on a typewriter, or lighting off the word processor. It is about choosing words carefully to begin with, using skill and discipline to arrange and edit, and then carefully re-writing your work.

With due diligence, anyone can write a great resume and cover letter for the perfect job or sell enough magazine articles to make a living.

Who knows? Maybe you can even write The Great American Novel.

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© 2011 J. Clark

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