TECHNICAL ISSUES IN WRITING

  

Although we have editors on staff at OM Times, articles that require less editing are considered first for publication.  The reason for this is that time constraints make it necessary to define where most of our efforts should be directed, so each issue of the magazine comes out on time, and looking fantastic.

We have found that the bulk of our resources must be put toward creating and organizing the most visually stunning layouts we can accomplish.  Unfortunately, this means that we only have so much time we can devote to editing, and articles that need extensive revision are only chosen if we have the time and manpower to get them adequately modified for publication.

You can help your chances of getting published immeasurably by taking care of a few extra technical issues before submitting your work.

> POINT OF VIEW

Personal memoirs or blogs are generally written in the first person, or from the ‘I’ perspective.  This is because they are observances recorded during moments of particularly clear memory or insight.  However, writing in the first person is not appropriate for professional publications.  We do use ‘personal blog space’ in the OM Times Writers’ Community as a means of article submission, but we do not publish personal blogs written from the ‘I’ perspective.  In order for your work to be considered for publication, our suggestion would be that personal experiences be externalized when they are written about, so that your knowledge may be imparted from a much broader, general perspective.

Consider the following two paragraphs – the first is written in the first person, and the second is an externalized version of the same paragraph.  Note how they are different from each other, and how the second perspective gives a much broader sense of the experience being written about.

Example:

As a new teacher I have, and continue to struggle to find a balance between setting high expectations for my students, and building positive relationships with them.  For the first half of my first year, I simply struggled to use the resources provided to create challenging lessons.  Through continual hard work, I believe that the lessons I create are age and ability appropriate. To my dismay, I noticed that as my class increased in difficulty, my relationship with my students seemed to suffer.  As Mr. Cantor spoke of his teacher, Mr. Nicholson, I realized that the only way I will be able to have a profound impact on a student’s life is if I can find the balance I previously mentioned.

Revised:

New teachers face a continuous struggle to find balance between setting high expectations for students, and building positive relationships with them.  For the first half of the first year, a teacher’s main concern is simply creating challenging lessons with the resources available in the classroom.  Through continual hard work, lessons can become age and ability appropriate.  However, as the curriculum increases in difficulty, teachers' relationships with students seem to suffer.  The only real way to have a profound impact on a student’s life is in finding the balance between high expectations, and building positive relationships.

In the example above, we see that a person can write without using ‘I’, and therefore expresses their ideas in a more authoritative, professional way.  If you require assistance with making this adjustment, please feel free to submit a request in the OM Times Group called ‘Ask the Editors’.  We are more than happy to consult with you!

* PLEASE NOTE: The only exceptions to this rule are first person editorials written specifically for inclusion in the 'In My OMpinion' section of the magazine.  This subject will be covered in its own training blog at a later date.

> SPELLING AND CORRECT CONTEXT

Always use the spell checker in whatever writing software you use.  Many programs will pick out questionable grammar as well.  It is an invaluable tool for an aspiring writer.

As smart as they are though,  please realize that spell check can’t always do the entire job.  Some words have many spellings and meanings such as:  their, there, and there; or two, to, and too.  These words may be spelled correctly, but they may not be used in the correct context.  The spell check sometimes catches these as grammatical errors or, more usually, not at all.  Make sure to take the time to proofread your writing, and double-check words like this to be sure they are used correctly.

> GRAMMAR

One of the grammar errors we see most is a lack of subject-verb agreement.  Here are some examples:

Incorrect: High levels of mercury occurs in some fish. Correct: High levels of mercury occur in some fish.
Incorrect: Water in the fuel lines cause an engine to stall. Correct: Water in the fuel lines causes an engine to stall.
Incorrect: Food between the teeth result in decay. Correct: Food between the teeth results in decay.

Subjects and verbs must agree with each other in number – singular or plural.  There are several examples and guides online that you can use as a resource to learn about this common mistake.

> FLOW

Flow is the element within writing where one idea transitions seamlessly into the next.  It can be very difficult to organize flow when you have many thoughts flying around in your mind, all clamoring to get out.

The basic article length accepted at OM Times is 600 to 1200 words– that isn’t very long.  If you try to cram too much information into a single piece, the writing can become rushed, choppy, disjointed, and difficult to understand.

Using an outline can help you to organize your thoughts before you ever write a word.  It can help you narrow your focus so that you impart one or two ideas really well, instead of fifteen ideas poorly.

There are several different kinds of outlines – choose one that suites your style, and use it often.  Preparation is the main key to incorporating smooth flow in your writing.

Incorrect spelling, odd grammar and other mistakes can be a huge distraction to a reader.  Really interesting magazine articles impart ideas with a certain amount of personal flare.  If you can learn to clear up these small technical issues, you will remove all distractions, allowing your own unique style to shine.

 

NAMASTE

(This article is part of the OM Times Writers Community Training programme)

Views: 96

Replies to This Discussion

Thank You Trevor--Great-- Dr. Haider

Awesome, thank-you this was very helpful.  My weak point is subject-verb agreement.  Thanks for the examples.

Practical and useful information!

Hi Trevor,  Thanks for this helpful article! 

Do you prefer third person over second, as well?

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