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Getting one’s thoughts down on paper may seem to some people as
a demanding challenge, as writing is a skill that requires time, concentration, and persistence. Whether it is creative, business or academic writing, writers need to be patient until they are able to be sure that they have actually succeeded in transferring ideas into a written product which is well
organised and clear to the reader. Good, experienced writers know that following a defined and widely accepted set of stages creates an efficient and stress-reducing framework, which is the key to successful writing.
editing and proofreading
After the initial stages of brainstorming, planning, outlining and drafting which mostly concern content, writers must always revise drafts for editing purposes, which deal with both content and language issues. These stages of the writing are essential for making sure that the intended ideas and plan have actually been fully
realised on paper; and as any good writer knows, this is often far from being the case. Some people regard revising and editing as one unified stage, while others separate the two.
Revising consists of
re-reading the text globally and controlling the logical flow of arguments and supporting details. This is the time to either add in or cut out information and to consider
re-arranging material to make the text more cohesive. Conjunctions
("and", "or", "but",
"so", "because", "although") and transitions
("however", "in addition",
"consequently", for example) must be used for logical and thematic connections within the text. On the sentence level, it is advisable to vary sentence length and type (simple, compound and complex sentences); and to avoid common mistakes such as run-ons, fragments and comma splices.
Editing refers to controlling more technical language aspects which are no less important than content issues for polishing your writing. Even advanced writers sometimes miss out on such grammatical pitfalls as subject-verb agreement and appropriate verb tense choices. Spelling and punctuation are sometimes infamously known as annoying language
nitty-gritty that require time-consuming confirmation of proper comma or hyphen usage,
capitalisation or abbreviation. The very last stage of proofreading is the writer’s final chance to closely re-examine those hard to find language or typography mistakes that blemish the desired perfection of the writing.
Writing in English with English
writing software programs
There are several software programs that assist writers in overcoming some of the writing challenges by offering highly advanced editing and proofreading services. They save you time and editing costs. The advanced artificial intelligence and grammar engine of these programs enable the detection and correction of language errors that may damage the image you want to project. The proofreading abilities of the integrated spell checker and smart punctuation check will prevent you from getting embarrassed in case you are not sure about the particularities of the English language.
One such program is the
WhiteSmoke’s English Writing
Software, in which text correction features are coupled with its text enrichment services. The software algorithms constantly scan an endless number of texts, adding to the large variety of enrichment suggestions for synonyms and descriptive adjectives and adverbs that bring English text enhancement to a whole new level. This also builds on a remarkable online English dictionary and thesaurus, which includes translation to 18 languages, making the software really adaptable for international English users.
Further Tips for Revising, Editing and Proofreading
1. Take some time off between drafting and revising / editing.
2. Read your draft aloud slowly and carefully.
3. Make sure you stay on topic and delete irrelevant information.
4. Make sure your paragraphs contain topic sentences and sufficient supporting sentences.
5. Be aware of your audience’s needs and language level.
6. Vary language structures and use parallelism, emphasis and pronoun reference.
7. Use appropriate register and avoid sexist language.
8. Organise your writing to allow a logic development of your argument.
9. Work on an inviting introduction, an elaborate discussion and a conclusive closing.
10. Vary word choices and rephrase repetitive key ideas in different ways.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a Nigerian writer based in the US, is
fast becoming a house-hold name not only in Nigeria but globally. Her works,
especially the novel Purple Hibiscus, has won many awards including the
2005 Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Book. It was also
short-listed for the prestigious Orange Fiction Prize award in 2004. Her
latest novel, Half of a Yellow Sun, based on the Biafran war, has just been
published and is already making waves. She speaks to me about these works
and other related issues. (The interview was conducted a year before she won
the Orange Prize).
SIU:Let us into a brief biography of yourself.
I was born in Anambra State in 1977. I grew up in the university town of Nsukka where I attended primary and secondary
schools. I started off studying medicine at the University of Nigeria and
then decided, after a year, that medicine was not for me and left for the US
where I studied communication and political science and, later, got a
Masters Degree in creative writing. I spent a fellowship year at Princeton
University where I taught creative writing to undergraduates. I am presently
in the graduate program in African studies at Yale University. My father is
a retired university professor and my mother is a retired
registrar. I am the fifth of six children.
SIU:How did your interest in writing begin?
I fell in love with books as a child. I have been writing since I was old
enough to spell. I don't have major inspirations. I am inspired by
everything and anything.
SIU:What informs the choice of your themes?
My themes are informed by interest. I write about what I care about; gender,
class, religion, family, history, race.
SIU:Your first novel, Purple Hibiscus, has won many prestigious awards and
short-listed for others. What is the secret behind this phenomenal success?
There is no secret. I don't quite see it as a phenomenal success either and
hope to improve my craft as I go along. Purple Hibiscus is the result of
many years of rejections from earlier publishers and hard work and a refusal
to give up. I read as much as I can because I am convinced that reading is
the only way to nurture writing. And most of all, I am deeply committed to
writing. I put in a lot of time into writing and re-writing. My relative
success is a result of a number of things: my hard work; my
determination; my refusal to back down in the face of the many rejections I received at
engaged in many fields of study: medicine; communication and
politics; and creative writing. In what way has each of these contributed to your success
as a writer?
I studied medicine for just one year and so don't think it had any
influence. I was, however, a science student in secondary school and I am
not sure whether or not physics (which I disliked) and chemistry (which I
liked) contributed to my writing. Studying communication and
political science meant that I had the opportunity to read widely across
disciplines: philosophy; history; politics. It has very much helped my writing by
expanding my knowledge. To write fiction is to try to make sense of the
world and knowledge of the facts of the world can only aid that.
SIU:Your second novel, Half of a Yellow Sun, is based on the Biafran war. To
what extent is the story a personal experience, and what lesson are you
trying to impart?
I never try to impart lessons with my fiction. The beauty of literature, I
think, is that different people will come away with different interpretations.
Half of a Yellow Sun is a story of love and loyalty and betrayal and
change (for more on the book go to www.halfofayellowsun.com). My
grandfathers both died in Biafra and so the novel is also my way of paying
tribute to them and to so many others. It is also my hope that this book
will start a conversation among Nigerians of my generation about a history
that we have tended to ignore.
SIU:Some critics have tried to emphasise the difference between women's writings
and those of men. Is there really any difference?
I don't think so. What I would emphasise as a means of differentiation would
be technique rather than gender; the quality of the prose; the sentence
construction, etc. I think that gender probably plays a bigger role in how
critics read than in how writers write.
SIU:Would you have gone this far in your writing career if you were not living
CNA: I was first published in Nigeria. A poetry collection and a play were both
published before I left Nigeria. That said, it is obvious that publishing is
an established industry in the US in a way that it's not in Nigeria. I may
not have been published internationally if I had stayed back in Nigeria, but
I would certainly have been writing.
SIU:Finally, should readers expect works from you soon?
CNA:Half of a Yellow Sun has just been published in the US and
will be out in Nigeria in November.
About the interviewer Sumaila Isah Umaisha is the Literary Editor of New Nigerian Newspapers, Kaduna, Nigeria. He has written two collections of short
stories: The Last Hiding Place and Burning Dreams, and a collection of
poems: hell@heavensgate. He is a co-editor of After The
Curfew, an anthology of poems and short stories by members of the Kaduna State chapter of Association of Nigerian Authors. His poems and short stories are published in seven anthologies. He is currently working on a collection of interviews with Nigerian
writers: Nigerian Writers Talking. His blog can be
accessed at: http://www.EverythinLiterature.blogspot.com
uses English spelling conventions.
Spellings such as "realise"
differ from other spelling conventions
but are nonetheless correct.
Literary expands again Following last month's announcement
of the launch of the New York branch of
Martin Literary Management, it has now
been revealed that another new branch is
to be launched on January 1, 2008.
Californian office will continue to
handle nonfiction exclusively, and the
New York office will continue to focus
on fiction, children's books, and true
crime, the new division is intended to
handle mind, body, and spirit titles