...an article that reads well?!
February 26, 2013 9:18am CST
I don’t know what to think anymore. Can someone please tell if the view of a ‘well written article’ is a subjective view? If it is, then perhaps it should explain my experience. I have this fellow writer. I have no grudge against him but have an issue with his writing. He seems to writes like the way he speaks the words. I kinda expected that he will commit grammar mistakes with that way and that is even true for experienced writers. However, as I read his article, it really makes the writer inside me to pull my hair. Great concept but bad writing in my opinion. I try to edit it (usually in great amounts) but the edited version that I did gets rejected because ‘it doesn’t read well’. Perhaps, it’s important to mention that the writer is using Aus/Brit English and I was schooled into American English. I’m trying to publish that article but I doubt that any client will accept it as it is. That’s my opinion. I would like to believe that it is fairly subject area in writing. The reason is that I recently wrote for an Australian blog and they were satisfied. So I’m getting confused here. Anybody can help?
• United States
27 Feb 13
I suppose even today's rules of grammar, of which many are objective, are still subjective in the context of language. The only reason there are "rules" for the written word is so the system can be learned and perpetuated. It's a code; proper grammar--knowing it and exercising it--delivers and decodes the code. But this code is consistently tweaked and tinkered with by all of us collectively. But as long as we're operating within this system, a person still has to honor enough of this code that their writing is legible to whomsoever attempts to decipher it. Without propar spelling and grammer somethings can blur together and well become a real mess and its difficult to tell what people are trying too say so holding up you're end of the code is important. Punctuation and spelling is a bit different from UK grammar to American grammar, but the gist is the same. You can throw a document into Word, select the USA or UK grammar settings, and have everything auto-corrected. It sounds to me like your bigger problem is this person just doesn't write well. Something that's difficult to read could be totally subjective. I know a bunch of people with no idea how to read a scientific paper. They refer to it as an "abstract concept," because they don't grasp what the "abstract" is in such a paper. They have difficulty understanding the words and phrasing. It's technical. So they walk away believing it's false simply because they can't grasp it. They'll find a dumbed-down, abridged version of it online, more like a bad review written by someone else who couldn't understand it, and that's where they'll take their opinion from. Then again, some people just like different styles. A good writer can adapt to suit the needs of a reader. It's part of what makes a good writer. A great fictional story, for example, is its most gripping when the characters within are different and compelling. Of course, these characters are all created by the same person. But they often speak differently and think differently. If it's just a question of style points, this should be something easy enough to correct.
27 Feb 13
Reading his text gives me a headache and it frustrates me because I cannot get what he is actually saying. Perosnally, he isn't a believer in short sentences. I believe that if you're writing for an online audience,it's one of the basic rules IIRC. I don't really have a problem between Brit/Aus english and American English. But I did notice that some writers of different Englishes have their style. As a writer in American English,my sentences are shorter compared to him. I don't mind it but sometimes it feels to me like really long-winded. here's a sample: Some women truly enjoy helping with the pre-wedding party planning and helping the bride make everything perfect on the day, but for many, many women it’s a little bit of extra stress as they have no background or preparation for the stress of event planning on the scale of many of today’s weddings. Personally, I can chop that into a few and more clear sentences. I guess it is part of the style but feels really long to me.
• United States
27 Feb 13
Yeah. That's a very long sentence. It's difficult to read if you're used to short sentences. Short sentences are greatly preferred by almost everyone I've ever worked for. One client of mine (from the UK, coincidentally) insisted I not start sentences with "but" or "and." So I didn't. My sentences were long like your example, and I made sure to never end them when I had a but coming, and instead I would sometimes use a semicolon, but even that was a bit too far out of the realm for him, and he consistently complained about it, but I couldn't make myself change that much, and now we no longer work together. With that sample, it seems to me that this guy's trying to fill word space. Actually using a contraction instead of the possessive, and actually denoting possession, it doesn't look like he's making dumb mistakes. Just looks like he's stretching out the thought. I'm guessing he's relatively new to it. Once you write for a while, you no longer need to stretch things out. You can find another thought to throw in. And you also begin to realize that it takes longer to fluff something up than to just write through the points.
27 Feb 13
I think we will fall into the same situation. Sometimes, his articles are full of that. No wonder I have to overhaul almost everything when I edit his work. And usually, clients are from the US so I think they will have a hard time reading and understanding the text. Sometimes I retain some of the long-windednsses as not to 'sanitize' it completely. But what I am always aim for is that the reader understands the text. I don't exactly know what level of his writing is or how much experience he has. I think it's better that I don't know. I grew up using US English and pretty much the rules are already drilled in my head. It's an advantage but in this world, it's just a common advantage. I agree with fluffing. Usually,it's evident when short out of word count or keyword density.
26 Feb 13
A well written article is one that sounds natural, as if it were written by a fluent speaker of that language, even if he/she is not. If a lot of editing is required then an article is bound not to read well. If one is not capable to write such an article, then he is not made to be a writer at all. Writing is after all a gift that not everybody possesses.
27 Feb 13
So what should I do? Less editing to make it sound more natural? I don't really know how to treat his material right now and whether I should still ask material from him. I don't want to keep editing his work (because of the things I have to edit and clarify) but I wish to preserve his voice. But if I keep his original text, nobody would want to publish it IMO.
• United States
27 Feb 13
Maybe suggest that he try thinking about the topic in bullet points. Even if it's not like a "top 10" theme, perhaps suggest that he approach the writing as if he was writing a top-10 list in bullet points -- listing the benefits in a succinct, bold way. This might get him to really shorten up his sentence length and to tighten up the tone of his work. Something that's easier and more interesting to read might come across as "well written" to someone.
28 Feb 13
Well written article - Flow of thoughts and expressing one idea in a single paragraph. Additionally, the grammar must be correct. Avoid using "but" or "and" in the begining of a sentence. This is what most editors mean by well written article. The audience must be taken into consideration while writing the content. Do ask the person if he needs the conetnt to be written in American or British English and ask for an instance in your written content where words do not read well.
26 Feb 13
I'll offer an opinion and perhaps someone else can give a more professional example or at the least what they find people that pay for articles will or will not accept. My own personal outlook is about content. If an article speaks to me or gives me information that I need then I am less concerned about format. However, I want to be able to read it once and understand it and not re-read it four times to understand it. Although I appreciate and admire work that is perfect small mistakes or alternate styles or writer from other places do not bother me as much as one would think that is as long as the writing makes sense to me. On a less serious note American English lacks grammar correctness if we consider that the Brit's started the trend although we cannot understand them.