Blog

Client Profile: Karen Rowe

Karen-Rowe-NYC-Writers-Camp

Karen has been using my writing and research services for the last year and a half. I’ve done market research, written profiles, and fact-checked for many of her projects.

An entrepreneur and #1 International Best Selling author, Karen is an expert in non-fiction writing. She is the owner of Front Rowe Seat writing firm, and co-owner of the NYC Writers Camp.

Her NYC Writers Camp is such a great enterprise! Give yourself a vacation to the Big Apple while finally completing your book using her fool-proof writing plan. What writer wouldn’t love that?! I know when I’m able to pin down a concept for a book, I’ll be taking advantage of that deal.

Karen is HIGHLY talented and an amazing, kind person! I greatly suggest checking her out at nycwriterscamp.com

Back in the Swing of Things!

Jackie-Lefebvre-new-babyHis name is Darren. He was born weighing 8 pounds, 2 ounces, and like the energizer bunny, he just keeps going! He’s in the 90th percentile, meaning he’s well above average. And this momma couldn’t be more proud.

It’s been an exhausting first couple of months, but now that my darling boy is sleeping throughout the night (yay!), I’m glad to say that I’m back working and even accepting new clients!

Furthermore, I’ll be re-launching my website soon to include a section on freelance web and business writing. Need some blogs? Need a business proposal? How about a grant application? I can help you get the job done!

Stay on the lookout for new content and have a great summer!

 

What is Academic Fraud and Why I Won’t Rewrite Your Essay

Jackie-Lefebvre-Academic-Fraud

I’ve come across many different kinds of requests for editing support. I am happy to give my services to all writers looking to spruce up their writing. But, there is one thing I will not do—research or rewrite sections of an academic paper for students.

Why?

Having someone else rewrite your academic work, even if you paid for it, is considered Academic Fraud. You could be kicked out of school for it!

Each university has its own list of rules for what qualifies as Academic Fraud, but overall they are the same. In school, no matter what level, your grades are determined by essays, projects, and exams that you, and you alone, have completed. Passing post-secondary school is proving that you know how to think (albeit in most cases with no sleep, too much coffee, and not enough nutritional food!). In an essay, the ideas and final conclusions HAVE to be yours. Even though you may come to those conclusions by route of other scholars’ work (which you should be doing for a good grade), you still have to cite those sources. But ultimately, your thesis and the conclusions should come by you.

So, how can I help you?

I may not be able to re-write your essay, proposal, or thesis, but I will be able to help you get your paper in the best shape it can be. Not only will I check for spelling, grammar, and syntax, I will also be able to indicate flaws in your logic and argument.

On top of that, I can help you—coach you—to come to the correct conclusions based on your research. Much of what I see with students, especially in their first and second years, is that they have done the research but can’t piece it all together in an essay. They find it incredibly difficult to write a thesis statement that will tie together all their evidence. I can help you with that!

My support in argument creation is more like tutoring; it isn’t Academic Fraud. I can teach you how to read your own evidence, analyze the data, and make a compelling argument. This way you can do it for yourself in the future.

So, if you find yourself stuck with writing essays, send me a message and I’ll help you out.

Why I Don’t Write Fiction: Confessions of an Overachiever

I love stories. I make up tales in my head all the time and have done so since I was a child. I find pleasure in playing through stories in my head, like a movie that you can watch but have complete control of the storyline. But I don’t write them down.

I tried writing them down during my teenage years. I even received a decent mark in Grade 12 Creative Writing for my stories. Though, with the onset of undergrad, then graduate school, and then full-time work, I never really found the opportunity or ambition to write my stories down anymore. I started a diary at the age of 13, and made a silent pact that this was only going to reflect my life events. I was quite adamant about keeping that up-to-date, at least until I reached university. I will still pull out my diary (which now spans over 6 notebooks) once in while to update it. But even these entries are few and far in-between.

Jackie-Lefebvre-Editor-Diaries

So, why don’t I write stories?

Because I am can’t stand the idea of failing. Call me an over-achiever; call me a perfectionist, but the moment I write something out, my mind is constantly scanning it for errors—continually trying to make it better. I am always questioning my own choices. Yes, this trait makes me a good editor (as I hear from clients), but it makes me a terrible fiction writer.

This perfectionism led to great marks in university. Not only was I constantly reading and writing, writing and reading, I was also always questioning my skills: my arguments; my vocabulary; and my grammar. Essays always felt rushed in the end. Even though I would give myself ample time to complete the writing, I felt the editing was never finished. The few B+s that I received on papers in my first year (apparently a good-enough mark for some), was absolutely heart wrenching for me. It forced me to learn what it was about my writing that wasn’t giving me top marks. It forced me to learn to eagerly master the skills of editing until each B+ turned into an A or A+. Heck, even the “mere” A’s irked me a bit.

This perfectionism makes looking back at my own writing a pain. It kills me to see the mistakes I made in the past. I can only now chuckle at the crooked cursive of my thirteen-year-old hand and silently edit my personal diary entries in my head. I still refuse to look back at essays from my undergrad years, knowing I’ve come so far as a writer and editor since then.

It definitely makes writing blogs very difficult. I started this entry wondering what I should write about. After erasing the first sentence 5 times, I realized that my perfectionism was getting in the way. So that’s my topic. I could read this post over and over, make changes each time I do, and never get it out. I could spend all day on it and finally send it off at midnight, confident it is complete. Then tomorrow, read it while it is already posted and smack my self upon seeing its flaws. That’s just the chance I have to take though.

10 Ways Editing Helps Your Writing

Ottawa Freelance Editor for HireA good editor will always check these 10 important writing errors:

1. Spelling

The proper placement of letters to form the correct words for the sentence. Editing spelling includes checking for typos of words that are spelled correctly, but aren’t the correct word for the sentence, example bind vs. blind. Unless otherwise agreed upon, spelling should be edited to Canadian usage.

2. Grammar

The rules governing the structure of the English language. Editing grammar ensures that the proper nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, etc. are in place to ensure clarity and professionalism.

3. Punctuation

The proper use of spacing, conventional signs and typographic figures as aids to understand meaning of a text. Editing punctuation ensures the proper punctuation is used, including instances of misplaced apostrophes that affect the meaning of the word, for example: its vs. it’s. Punctuation editing also ensures consistency of style, such as the use or avoidance of the Oxford/serial comma.

4. Syntax

The way in which words are put together to form phrases or clauses. Editing syntax analyzes sentence structure and proper phrasing.

5. Word Usage

Correct usage of terms and expressions. Editing word usage ensures the right word is chosen for the specific context. This includes editing the misuse of homonyms, such as check vs. cheque, as well as improper prepositional usage, for example: capable for (this is incorrect and should be capable of). In some cases, words may be repeated too often and an alternative word is required.

6. Argument and Organization

A set of reasons given to support an idea or opinion arranged in a way that is rational and easy for the reader to follow. Editing argument includes identifying instances, whether examples or claims, that are in direct conflict to your argument or are not very supportive. Editing organization may include moving entire sections of writing, such as paragraphs or chapters, to ensure the most logical progression of ideas.

7. Context

Words, phrases or arguments that influence the meaning of an idea or statement. Editing context ensures that the information presented, such as situations or background events, is relevant to the subject at hand. It also ensures that outside material is not taken out of context, which would compromise the writer’s authority.

8. Continuity and Flow

The logical connections between arguments, ideas, and sentences to help readers easily move throughout the document. Editing continuity and flow ensures the use of transition words, concise sentences, and a varied sentence structure to avoid repetition and reader confusion.

9. Voice

The distinct personality, narration style, or point of view of a written work. Editing for voice ensures consistency to avoid confusion in the writer, while ensuring that changes in perspective are logical and add to the value of the written work.

10. Citation Style

The rules and conventions of citation and formatting by an established organization. Some schools include the Modern Languages Association (MLA), the American Psychological Association (APA), and the Chicago Manual of Style (CMS). Editing for style includes ensuring that the rules of one school are consistently adhered.

 

Definitions derive from the Oxford English Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Dictionary, or Wikipedia.

The Importance of Editing

Editing-importance-HewettRipley-JackieLefebvreAs a writer, you are close to your work. Whether it is your life story, tips for succeeding in business, or a fiction, you have full authority of what you say and how you say it.

Despite this authority, you also have an obligation to your readers to give them the information in the most fluent and easily accessible way possible. How do you do this? Editing. You have to edit for word usage, punctuation, spelling, grammar, syntax, flow and structure. The English language is riddled with rules. These rules exist because it is a complex language. With Celtic, Germanic, Latin influences and more, English today is as unique as ever—especially when new words such as “selfie” are being added to the dictionary every year.

When the rules of the language are not followed, you risk confusion and frustration from your reader whose experience is constantly interrupted. Think about how annoying it is when you are really starting to enjoy a story and all of a sudden a typo appears: “he was bind to her lies.” Wait, bind?  A spellchecker will not catch this type of mistake, and a writer who is not careful may be blind to its existence. When you own a work and have spent so much time and energy on it, you gets so used to your own content that you can easily miss minor details. This is especially true for writers on a deadline, rushing their proofreading process. Someone approaching your work for the first time, will catch small mistakes easily.  Today, with the Internet riddled with mistakes and typos, most readers are forgiving of these types of errors. but you may lose your credibility, especially if you are trying to market yourself as the expert in your field.

While there are general rules for spelling, grammar and punctuation, citation rules are specific to different schools of thought. These include the Modern Languages Association (MLA) for non-fiction and research papers in the arts and humanities, American Psychological Association (APA) for the social and behavioral sciences, and Chicago Manual of Style (CMS), for fiction and non-fiction stories. I won’t get into the specifics of these styles, but you can find helpful resources online at:

https://owl.english.purdue.edu/

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

Yet, editing does so much more than just checking for typos, spelling, punctuation and grammar. You have to know your audience and make sure your writing speaks to them. My word usage and voice are going to be different in a blog post for the general public than it will in a research paper for a peer-reviewed, academic journal. You, as a writer, have a unique voice, but there may be aspects to your writing that disrupt the flow of reading. For example, you may be a writer who enjoys repeatedly using introductory adjectives to tell your story: “Exhausted, he entered the house.” Or: “Lazily, she flopped onto the couch.” Although these sentences are grammatically correct, a reader who is constantly bombarded with them is going to get board fast. Again, as the writer, you may not recognize when certain types of phrases are being overused.

A good editor will not only recognize the basics of grammar, but will check your word usage, flow, sentence structure, and argument. A good editor will recognize when your story does not make sense. He or she will see when you assume that your readers knows more than they do, or—even worse—when you over-explain a point and assume you have an ignorant reader.

So all the best with your work and remember to get yourself a good editor!

 

*All examples are contrived.