How to write better hubs and why that matters.

Being honest on HubPages.

It is a truth universally unacknowledged that some of us write badly, very badly. And while this may seem like a provocative and incendiary statement with which to start a hub that does not make it untrue.

The failsafe is, that for the those of us who think we are writers but who really have no talent, either with words or grammar, most of our offerings end up being flagged with low HubScores and/or low Authorscore.

But there are still too many substandard hubs that slip through the net. So I must be honest, and to some extent unusually hardhearted for a Hubber, and point out that some of us really should not be writing at all.

It is only the generosity, the determined positivity and the large-hearted democratic tendencies of HubPages that allows a voice to all but the irredeemably unsalvageable.

The lure of the ‘quick' buck.

The trouble is that too many people join with dollar signs in their eyes seeing only hubs entitled 'How to make money on HubPages'.

Sadly, HubPages is not a 'get rich quick' scheme, even if you write the best copy in the world and newcomers should be aware of this if they have done any preliminary reading at all on the HubPages site.

And if you haven't done that sort of background reading, either before or just after joining HubPages, then you really should catch up now.

Now how do I work this spellchecker thingy...
Now how do I work this spellchecker thingy... | Source
Antidisestablishmentarianism ... does that look right to you?
Antidisestablishmentarianism ... does that look right to you? | Source
Has anyone seen the chapter on homonyms?
Has anyone seen the chapter on homonyms? | Source
Source

The Golden Rules for writing on HubPages.

Most of us writing on HubPages know, or at least eventually learn, the golden rules:

  • Original, interesting and evergreen content of reasonable length, preferably on a niche topic
  • Attention grabbing titles that also manage to reflect the search query wording of internet users (much harder than it sounds!)
  • Eye-catching presentation - no big hefty, blocks of dull-looking text
  • Visual content - photographs, preferably original to the writer, videos, links etc.
  • Excellent writing with good spelling and grammar.

'And therein lies the rub’, to quote Shakespeare.

It is this last aspect with which I have a problem when reading some hubs and it is the inattention to this aspect which I believe often lets HubPages down.

The three secrets of good writing.

The three secrets of good writing anywhere are proof-reading, proof-reading and proof-reading.

I recently read several hubs by fellow Hubbers with high Authorscores and I was utterly stunned by the mistakes in their work. It looked suspiciously like they had rushed it as in some cases they started off well and went quite off the rails towards the end.

It would appear that they simply had not reread their work after completing it. They had not proofread it and that is not the trait of the professional writer.

Proof-reading gives you a professional finish to your work.

Proof-reading is not rocket science. Most of us know it is simply rereading your work before publication. For some reason it seems this often works better if you read it aloud to yourself.

Proof-reading enables you to catch and amend the typos, spelling mistakes and bad grammar and it should be done more than once on any work you are about to publish.

Getting into the habit of proof-reading your work several times should be the most basic requirement before publishing anything.

Spellchecker is not infallible.

Okay, so most of us use the spellchecker to check for spelling mistakes but this is far from infallible.

For a start there is the problem of homonyms. You know, those words that sound the same but mean different things, such as ‘there’ when it should be ‘their’ or ‘they’re', ‘you’re’ instead of ‘your’, were instead of where etc.

Spellchecker is smart but it does not have the ability to differentiate between homonyms, it simply recognises them as bona fide words. How is it to know that was not what you meant when you typed in the wrong word? Roll on intuitive computers that can tell you where you are going wrong on this one.

And of course, one must always be aware that there are differences in the U.S and U.K spelling of various words (i.e Center (US) Centre (UK), Labor (US) Labour (UK) etc.) This should not be a problem if you use just one dictionary consistently.

I think this is more of a problem for computer users in the UK as American-English is usually the default dictionary set on their computer unless they change it.

Both of these things matter and it is important that you get it right if you want to be taken seriously as a writer. Professional writers don't make these mistakes and being as professional as possible is the whole point of my writing this hub.

It should also be the whole point of HubPages.

The intricacies of grammar.

Basic grammar is more tricky. 'I have wrote' is bad grammar, 'I have written' is good grammar and even I am not such a grammar geek that I could explain why this is so. I just know it on some cellular level.

If grammar is your bête noire then you are either going to need extra tuition, find a friend who knows about these things to check it over for you or just give up writing.

When is being supportive being unhelpful?

I am always struck by the supportive camaraderie of almost all the Hubbers I have encountered on HubPages. I have watched as they have politely praised, and even voted up, hubs that have bristled with glaring errors in spelling or grammar.

Their innate good manners and generosity have meant that they have not, gently and discreetly, pointed out those errors to the writer.

This is all very spiritual but it means that the writers of such hubs may never progress as they will never learn when they have made errors. We may, in fact, be being too kind.

This sort of kindness keeps the writer of poor hubs limited and so is not really any sort of kindness at all.

What Hubbers owe to HubPages.

Finally, I would like to emphasise to all my fellow Hubbers the debt we owe to HubPages whose innovative and eclectic approach to on-line publishing allows us to write to our heart's content with only a modicum of regulation.

Such freedom puts the onus on us to write the very best content we possibly can and make sure the faith HubPages has in us is not misplaced.

Quality content will guarantee that HubPages develops a reputation for gravitas which in turn will ensure that HubPages becomes a highly regarded resource by the search engines especially the all-pervasive Google.

I don’t think I need to point out that the knock-on effect of this will benefit all of us.

So, remember ... proof-read, proof-read,proof-read … this hub and let me know if it needs editing. Thanks!

Update:

And just in case you think this is a load of hooey, take a look at the following link to a recent news item: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-14130854

As I have just explained, if you cannot spell you lack credibility, whether you are 'selling' your writing on HubPages or elsewhere.

I think this clip needs editing! Watch for the far from deliberate error.

More by this Author


Comments 31 comments

BobbiRant profile image

BobbiRant 5 years ago from New York

I agree totally, but, then HP 'features' ones that are mediocre at best and that brings this site downward so it defeats the purpose of hubhopping and flagging. Great hub.


Angie Jardine profile image

Angie Jardine 5 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... Author

Thanks Bobbi ... I never thought of that ... maybe if we flood it with quality content?

All the best ...


tritrain profile image

tritrain 5 years ago from United States

I agree. Thank you for making positive suggestions.


daisyjae profile image

daisyjae 5 years ago from Canada

I like this hub, spelling mistakes are my biggest pet peeve.It takes 3 seconds to do a spell check! Rated up and awesome!


Angie Jardine profile image

Angie Jardine 5 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... Author

Well thank you, tritrain and daisyjae. I seem to have struck a nerve here.

I'm sure that most mistakes are simply carelessness rather than any lack of intelligence ... but they look bad ... and give the wrong impression of both the writer and the site.

Your comments are appreciated.


SweetMarie83 profile image

SweetMarie83 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

I think that for people who can't write well who just want to write for the heck of it, or are looking to make money, should stick with things like blogs and not bring a site like HubPages down with their poor writing skills. I know that even if I'm reading an interesting article, once I hit more than one spelling mistake, I tend to lose interest.

If you're going to take the time to write, you also need to be prepared to take the time to proofread, spellcheck and maybe even have someone else look at it - as you said, it's not rocket science. It's also not fair to those of us who CAN write and are being dragged down because of the Google changes, or who are stereotyped as writing for a site that has bad content.

Really great hub!


Angie Jardine profile image

Angie Jardine 5 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... Author

Very well put, SweetMarie ... wish I had put it as cogently as that!

You have made a good point here that bad writing tars the rest of us with the same brush. I think it is a concern for quite a number of hubbers ...

Thanks for the kind response.


Twilight Lawns profile image

Twilight Lawns 5 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

Angie, you asked us to "Watch for the far from deliberate error."

I would have used "homophones" rather than "homonyms". I have the most deplorable typographical skills, and as a result, I edit to the best of my ability on the computer, and print it out and take it to the Common; sit in my car and edit and then come back and change my work.

I have found that I have started to read some hubbers' writings and by the time I start to find spelling mistakes or grammatical errors, I have got to the stage that I close that hub and "move on".

People who manage to write at least one poem per day, or churn out too much written work, make me so annoyed. (I think the thirty hubs in a month competition makes it a nonsense). Thank God I don't write for profit... just for the enjoyment of writing.

But, Oh Dear, I think you may have opened a hornets' nest, or do these people just not realise that they are the "guilty ones"?


Sharyn's Slant profile image

Sharyn's Slant 5 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

Hi Angie,

This is a great article and oh so true! Honestly, I rarely use spell check. (which is stupid and you really made me think about it). I do hope I am not on this "list" though?

I read and edit and read and edit to a point of going overboard with it. I would feel horrible if I had a huge spelling error and would hope that another friendly hubber would tell me about it.

I have done so! I've sent a private email message to a few writers to help them out. One spelling error was right in the title and I felt bad for her. And I really liked the content. So I let her know.

I've come across errors in material written by very popular writers who do it for a true living. It does drive me crazy. And as SweetMarie pointed out, I too lose interest after seeing more than one mistake.

Even here with my comment, I've read it a few times and will now click "post comment." Please let me know if you see a spelling error. :) Thanks,

Sharyn


Angie Jardine profile image

Angie Jardine 5 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... Author

Hi Sharyn ... thanks for your kind comment about this piece and don't worry I haven't kept a list ...lol. (Your comment was fine by the way.)

I think sending a helpful e-mail to point out an error via 'back office' as it were is a great idea and I hope the person was grateful for your consideration.

What really makes me boil is when someone baldly states in their profile that they write in all sorts of disciplines for a living and their hubs are all slang or text speak with the most random spelling, punctuation and grammar. It makes me think they are b**********g and are guilty of wishful thinking. I certainly cannot believe them.

Sorry, rant over ...

Thanks for taking the time to write such an in-depth comment.


Angie Jardine profile image

Angie Jardine 5 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... Author

Hi TL ... thanks for your kind comments ... I am right with you on leaving a hub when the errors get too distracting. Do they not understand what the red lines under words mean?

I proofread at least three times though I think my punctuation may be a bit wayward at times but, like you, I try really hard to present a truly polished piece of writing at the end.

All the best ...


Mark Ewbie profile image

Mark Ewbie 5 years ago from Euroland

Hi Angie, I agree, especially about the top writers. Staggering. On the plus side, it's given me a chance I might not have got at a 'proper' writing site - if such a place exists.

Let's hope HP can get better and get some traffic back.


Angie Jardine profile image

Angie Jardine 5 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... Author

Hi Mark ... nice to see you here!

I don't think you have much to worry about stylistically, grammatically or spellingly ... I would tell you if you had! This is a big fat joke by the way - I am far too much of a limp-wristed wuss to slap anyone down. But I do get depressed by the errors ... they just should not happen.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

And be sure to check for 'captial' letters!

(And speling!)


Angie Jardine profile image

Angie Jardine 5 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... Author

Hi Will ... of Corse!

Thanks for hanging around ...


mishfayd 5 years ago

Thia hub,the first I have read as I have only just joined (and am going to try to not be too paranoid about my punctuation and grammar right now) gave me hope. I love writing and I have written a bit and participated in critiques, etc. The most useful and gratifying ones were always honest and graceful. None of the people were Iit's mot "is," is it? Help!) bad writers: we were very lucky. But it takes courage to offer constructive, straightforward criticism. It is easy, and I have been "guilty" of writing facile comments about people's work in the past, trying to be "nice," and wasting their time and mine. But, there is alot of skill involved in providing feedback: it is a subtle process and it is necessary to show sensitivity and provide relevant feedback that relates specifically to what the writers wants to say (if that is obscure, that is an issue to be dealt with, too), and which, hopefully, facilitates their work. Everyone who writes is brave.


Angie Jardine profile image

Angie Jardine 5 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... Author

Many thanks for your comment, mishfayd, and welcome to HubPages!


Twilight Lawns profile image

Twilight Lawns 5 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

Angie, I wunder how many people will even notice your comment to Will.


Becky 5 years ago

Twilight, I noticed both and your wunderful comment as well. Wonderful information Angie, and very spot on.


Becky 5 years ago

Angie, check your last paragraph. LOL! HubpPages.


Angie Jardine profile image

Angie Jardine 5 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... Author

Hello TL, old bean! At least you picked it up - wunderful! I am presently reading your Poona series ... it brings back many memories ... ah, the heady days of childhood. x


Angie Jardine profile image

Angie Jardine 5 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... Author

Becky?! Is that my Becky? What are you doing here? I have tinkered with my last paragraph but if it is still wrong will you let me know please ... and many thanks for pointing things out ... see you tonight for dinner. xx


Twilight Lawns profile image

Twilight Lawns 5 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

Memories? Do you have Anglo Indian connections? And when you say "mud hut" it makes me think, North Devon, I know a little of Barnstaple, Bideford, Georgeham and bits and pieces in between... Oh, and Wrafton and Heanton Punchardon.

I love North Devon, but have some painful memories of some of the characters there.

By the way; what is the female of "Old Bean". I love it, but would our Transatlantic Cousins?


Angie Jardine profile image

Angie Jardine 5 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... Author

TL - I was in Ceylon when I was a kid (1953).. before the Navy got kicked out. Got shipwrecked on the way home - see my blog for that story http://angiejardine.wordpress.com

We are presently living in a cob cottage somewhere between Dartmoor and Exmoor - sort of mid-Devon really.

As for 'old bean' - it's asexual so no probs - and those over the other side of the pond love it - it fulfils their idea of true Britishness - bless 'em. :-)


Angie Jardine profile image

Angie Jardine 5 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... Author

Just a note to anyone who may remotely be looking for the story of my childhood shipwreck (see last comment) it is now on my blog page http://thisisangiesblog.blogspot.com - sorry, I defected from wordpress!


Twilight Lawns profile image

Twilight Lawns 3 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

I've just read this hub again and as always I love your gentle yet persuasive, yet eloquent, style.

The not so deliberate error. Eek!

One of the most enjoyable pastimes of my simple life is scanning advertisements and brochures to find errors... This sort of thing is a bonus.

Take my word for it. The subtitles for Bollywood films are a rich source.

I know. I ought to get out more.


Angie Jardine profile image

Angie Jardine 3 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... Author

Hello beloved!

Thank you for pitching up on this old hub to leave your kind … and very amusing … comment.

Summer is coming … you are bound to get out more then.

Mwah!


snakeslane profile image

snakeslane 3 years ago from Canada

Hi Angie, I am following Ian around, and happily landed on your page. You write well, and your message, though serious, does not come across stern or preachy. I sometimes send an email for obvious typos and spelling mistakes, and it's always appreciated. I worked as a reporter at a weekly newspaper for years, and always had an editor to check my writing, and it made me a bit careless (knowing that he would 'fix' it). Enjoyed this piece and your illustrations, glad Ian revived it (Hi Ian!). Regards, snakeslane


Angie Jardine profile image

Angie Jardine 3 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... Author

Hi snakeslane … thanks for adding so usefully to the content of this hub.

I think most of us appreciate a ‘behind the scenes’ nudge when we foul up.

So glad you liked this piece.


gregor 3 years ago

Please simplified your wordings: "Gravitas", "Modicum", "bete noire", "knock-on-effect". Ha ha I lost my understanding because I cannot find it in my dictionaries. Thanks anyway you have given me an assignment ha ha.


Angie Jardine profile image

Angie Jardine 3 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... Author

Hi Gregor … try the Oxford English Dictionary.

These are all phrases in common English usage, at least on this side of the Atlantic (UK) and if you have a decent vocabulary.

Sorry if they confused you …

Note to self: get rid of the wordsmithery - that one I partially made up :)

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