8 checks before you hit send.
Before you hit ‘send’ on your latest essay do 8 final checks.
1. Read it out aloud.
Read it out aloud slowly and check if you’ve overused a word. See if you have to hold your breath because the sentence is too long, or if anything just plain sounds odd.
2. Delete every ‘really’ or ‘very’.
Delete most adverbs, but ‘really’ and ‘very’ are the worst. Choose better adjectives and verbs rather than use ‘really or ‘very’.
He walked really slowly = he dawdled She ate very fast = she gobbled her food.
3. Does your piece open with a hook?
Does your opening hook make it impossible for the editor/ reader to stop reading because they have to know what’s going to happen.
4. Is your essay written in a friendly conversational voice?
Have you written it as though you’re telling a friend about the incident. Personal essays aren’t the place for fancy stilted language that you wouldn’t use every day.
5. Is there a universal theme to your essay?
Is there a take-away message for every reader? Something fascinating that happened to you is only of interest to others if they can identify with you.
6. Have you included plenty of details?
Did you ‘show’ and not ‘tell’ what happened? Did you use your five senses to show clearly / how you felt, saw and heard / what it looked,tasted and smelled like ?
As I entered the house there was a delicious smell of baking…….
I could smell the sticky cinnamon buns from the next street, together with the aroma of fresh brewing coffee. I knew I’d be staying awhile.
7. Does your ending round things off?
Bring the incident full circle. Maybe repeat something you said at the beginning. If there’s a message then don’t tell it blatantly to the readers. They aren’t stupid. If they haven’t got the message then you haven’t written the essay well enough.
8.Sum up your message.
Sum up the message of your essay in one sentence. If you can’t it’s not focused enough.
Once you have found the sentence that sums it all up, make sure that every sentence you have written supports this message.
Put a check against all these points?
OK go ahead and hit Send.