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Difference between Editing and Proofreading

My experience of many years has taught me to always confirm with clients what exactly they require when they ask me to edit or proofread a text. This is because many people take them to mean the same thing and use them interchangeably. True, the two are closely related, but there are some basic differences between editing (sometimes referred to as ‘copyediting’) and proofreading.

Editing is assessing the quality of writing. It corrects the structural problems and brings style to the writing, pencil4sometimes by re-writing certain sections or paragraphs. It also corrects ambiguity, inappropriate use of words, tone, voice, grammar, punctuation, and spelling.

Proofreading is correcting the text to make it sound right, without making major changes to it. Proofreading involves correcting typos, grammar, punctuation, spelling, misuse of words, and other minor inconsistencies and inaccuracies.

You may have noticed that editing involves proofreading plus a lot more.

‘Whereas proofreading is technical, editing is creativity.’ Do you agree with this statement?


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Author Betty DeRamus Offers Advice to Writers

Author Betty DeRamus talks about where she finds ideas and inspration for writing.



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Should I Use Bullets or Numbers

Have bullets and numbers ever confused you? Have you wondered whether to capitalize or punctuate your list? Well, you’re not the first one. Here are the rules:


Should I use a numbered list or a bulleted one?

Use a numbered list when you want to indicate a sequence, or when you’re listing things in order of importance.

Use bullets when the items are not sequential or are of equal importance. 

Should I capitalize the first letters of the items in the list?

Yes, you should capitalize the first letter of each item.

Should I use periods at the end of the items?

Use periods when the items are listed as clauses or phrases. For example:

  • Two white boxes with colored designs.
  • One small red box, as per the instructions.
  • Three large cartons.

 Use periods when the items complete the introductory statement. For example:

Students are admitted to the course if they have a

  • High school degree.
  • International Baccalaureate.
  • British Advanced levels.

Do not use periods when the items are short phrases or single words and the introductory statement is complete. For example:

The website had excellent features:

  • Beautiful design
  • Easy navigation
  • Very informative

Word of advice:

Never end a document, article, or e-mail with a list. Always add a sentence or two at the end to give a sense of completeness.


Have I missed out on anything? Are there any other rules?


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The Lighter Side of Writing



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Procrastination – Good or Bad

One of my students recently asked me whether procrastination was good or bad. Being a writer, it wasn’t difficult to explain.

ProcrastinateFirst of all, what is procrastination? Simply defined, it is putting things off because we either do not want to do them, or because we have too many things to do.  Don’t be afraid when you hear of procrastination being described as a “disorder” or a “psychological dysfunction”, because when writers procrastinate (anyone can procrastinate, not just writers), it’s nothing serious. You are simply putting off your writing assignments for later.

Why are you doing this? Well, the reasons may be many. Like we said above, you either do not want to do them (for reasons like – you are afraid of not doing them well, you do not like the assignments, you do not have the right environment, you think you work better under pressure, you have writer’s block, or you’re simply too lazy); or you have too many things to do and prefer to get the other things done before you sit down to write. We’ll discuss how to cure procrastination in a later post. Let’s just talk about whether it’s good or bad.

Well, it can be either good or bad depending on the situation and how you look at it.

It can be good if

  • It is due to lack of ideas and procrastinating gives you time to get over your block.
  • Doing something interesting first gives you inspiration for writing.
  • You are under stress or going through a bad phase, so putting the writing off for when you’re feeling better will produce better results.

It is bad when

  • Putting off your writing assignments for the last moment produces bad results.
  • You do not have time to review or proofread, thus ending up with error-filled writing.
  • You are not able to meet your deadlines.
  • Not meeting your deadlines results in bad reputation.


So, what do you think? Is procrastination good or bad? Why?


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Is Good Grammar Important

Is good grammar really important? Should writers adhere to the rules of grammar? Views on this vary. Some say that grammar isn’t all that important, it’s what you write that’s important. If writers start thinking about the rules, they’ll lose track of what they’re writing and mess the whole thing up. Another view is that English is an evolving language, so grammar shouldn’t be given so much importance. Those who do believe in good grammar say that good grammar is good writing (and vice versa). If the grammar is bad, then so is the writing. How can anyone consider an essay or an article with grammatical errors a good essay or article?

My personal view on this is a little mixed. In other words, in some cases good grammar is important, and in others, rules may be broken. Here’s why –

In non-fiction writing, good grammar is extremely essential. This is because when a writer writes non-fiction, he/she is giving readers facts and information. If this information is badly written, then who is going to read it? Who is going to believe in the information given? The reaction here is bound to be “What does he/she know?” So, for a piece of non-fiction to be authoritative, adhering to the rules of grammar is extremely important.      

Fiction writing is a little different.  Besides the story itself, there are characters and dialogues. Characters are supposed to represent humans, and humans are of all types. There are those who speak proper English, and those who don’t. So, if a character is one who doesn’t speak proper English, then the kind of language that the character speaks will have to be used in his/her dialogues. Otherwise the portrayal of the character will not be effective. So, what does this say about good grammar and fiction writing? It says that in fiction writing, grammatical rules may only be broken in dialogues in order to bring out the true character that the writer wishes to portray.

What are your thoughts on this? Is good grammar important for writers, or can he/she break rules?


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Quotes from Literature

literature1Today’s quotes are taken from literature, that is – from literary works of famous writers.


*  Fame is a pearl many dive for and only a few bring up. Even when they do, it is not perfect, and they sigh for more, and lose better things in struggling for them. ~ Louisa May Alcott in Jo’s Boys

*  It is far safer to know too little than too much. People will condemn the one, though they will resent being called upon to exert themselves to follow the other. ~ Samuel Butler in The Way of All Flesh

*  The truth is rarely pure and never simple. Modern life would be very tedious if it were either, and modern literature a complete impossibility! ~ Oscar Wilde in The Importance of Being Earnest

 * All true histories contain instruction; though, in some, the treasure may be hard to find, and when found, so trivial in quantity, that the dry, shrivelled kernel scarcely compensates for the trouble of cracking the nut. ~ Anne Bronte in Agnes Grey

*  The poor have sometimes objected to being governed badly; the rich have always objected to being governed at all. ~ G. K. Chesterton in The Man Who Was Thursday

*  One must be poor to know the luxury of giving! ~ George Eliot in Middlemarch

*  Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us. ~ Jane Austen in Pride and Prejudice


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