Manuscript Preparation, Copyediting, and Proofreading

Q. I’m a young writer who is the editor and journalist for a small publication and school newspaper. I was never taught how to write or how to write an article, so my question is how do I seek help or improve my means of editing and writing without support?

A. This is a tough question. Usually people aren’t asked to run before they can walk. Unfortunately, there’s no magic way to bring someone up to speed in the craft of writing or editing without a great deal of practice. Take an editing or writing class if you can, but for now, read everything you can get your hands on that’s similar to the material you’re supposed to be writing and editing. Read every issue of your school newspaper that you can find. In addition, read high-quality literature in whatever area interests you. When you read, your mind absorbs the sound and feel of the writing, and it becomes easier for you to write in the same way. It’s like learning a song. Imitating the writing of others is the first step to becoming a writer. You’ll find your own voice later. To learn about editing, read The Chicago Manual of Style and Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style. That will help you know what kinds of problems to look for. And if you find all this reading to be a burden or boring, you’ll know you’re in the wrong line of business.