Friday, August 10, 2012

Rookie mistakes for magazine writers

Magazine editing: I've done some editing for a magazine aimed at college students, and the collegiate writers often make the same mistakes. They don't put a comma before an end-quote in a direct quotation; they use acronyms without writing them out; they cite "experts" without saying who they are; they quote students but don't name their schools (or give their age or class).

They constantly begin a quote this way: Joe Schmoe, owner of so-and-so restaurant, says, "Blah de blah de blah." I change that to this: "Blah de blah de blah," says Joe Schmoe, owner of so-and-so restaurant.

The other big rookie mistake is NOT CHECKING FOR ERRORS. And, yes, veterans make this mistake, too. Yesterday, I re-read one of my stories and found two factual errors. I would have been embarrassed if I hadn't doublechecked.
Like rookies, veteran writers sometimes assume that "everyone" knows a bit of information, and sometimes we insert misinformation in an article without looking it up first. 

They're all rookie mistakes, and I point them out when I'm editing. My goal is to educate them in the ways of professional publications. On the other hand, those writers do some things I like, and I need to mention that, too.

Editorial group: 
If you're a writer, editor or general freelancer, you might check out my Freelance Writers and Editors group on Yahoo.

If you have an editing or writing blog (or if you have a particular entry you're proud of), let me hear about it. It doesn't even have to be a writing or editing blog. I just like good writing. Thanks.

Contact: I can be reached at or Also, my Twitter handle is EDITORatWORK.

(a book of great stories about the Intimidator)
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More blog entries by Tom Gillispie

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