Fine Tuning Your Writing on HubPages - Three Quick Tips
Don't Click that "Publish Now" Button Yet!
By the time I pull a Hub together, all I want to do is click the Publish Now button, pour a Scotch in celebration of my hard work, and sit back to wait for the comments to stream in and for my new Hub’s score to go through the roof. (Does that desire ring a bell with you?)
That’s what I want to do so very, very badly. Instead, I use my left hand to slap my right hand away from the mouse, and thus away from the Publish Now button, thereby foregoing the euphoria that instant gratification bestows.
“How could you be so cruel to yourself,” you might be asking. I ask that same question of myself, every time I get ready to publish a Hub. And I always come up with the same clichéd answer: No pain, no gain. You see, I have a more important objective in mind, and I have to go through the pain to get there.
Reading Should Be a Simple Path
Here’s what I want.
I want readers to travel through my Hubs without any kind of logical, grammatical, syntactical, or spelling obstruction. I want them to enjoy a clear path from start to finish: no potholes to fall into, no fallen trees to navigate, no faulty trail signs to follow. I want people to read my Hubs, leave their insightful comments, and ultimately share my writings with others. And, of course, I want my readers to keep coming back for more.
Here are three quick tips for fine-tuning your Hubs so that readers don’t stumble so often and so badly that they click the back button to venture out on someone else’s trail.
Tip 1 - Use Those Writing Tools, Again
Use That Spell Checker
Even if you used a spell checker religiously while you drafted your Hub, use it one more time. It's so easy to make a mistake when your Hub is on the final lap to the finish line. Go through the pain again to catch any mistakes you made in the final editing process. And for Pete's sake, don’t ever publish your Hub with this wrong spelling.
Use Your Brain
Also, use the tool that is your brain. Spell checkers are not context-sensitive even though some claim to be. Put effort into looking for ware vs. wear, their vs. there, its vs. it's, whole vs. hole, rein vs. reign, and all the rest of those tricky homonyms.
Use a Word-count Application
Don’t underestimate the power of numbers here, because if your Hub falls low in word-count, it's a sign that you should be looking for content that you didn’t develop in your early drafts. In other words, are you giving the reader his money's worth, not in terms of exact number of words, but in terms of the fullness of your thoughts?
Please Visit the Twilight Zone by Yourself
Use a Grammar Checker - Or Not
If you feel you have to use a grammar checker, then either you need to take a writing course (or five or ten), or you are the person whose grammar is fine but who likes drifting off into the convoluted dimension a grammar checker will lead. This journey will not contribute to the success of your Hub; in fact, it will lead you to the Twilight Zone of wasted time, bizarre grammatical constructions that lead you to doubt your normally good sense, and ultimately, to an unproductive writing process.
Tip 2 - Re-examine Sub-headings
Sub-headings create a map of your Hub. Readers want to know, starting at point A, how to get to B, to C, and to the end. Many studies have shown that Internet readers scan sub-headings (or link text) before they delve into full-bodied text, because they want to know if it's worth their time. Look for these two things in your own Hubs to keep readers on the right path.
Make Sure the Title of Your Hub and the Sub-headings Tell a Story by Themselves
Think about the contents of a book. When you read the well-written contents page of a book, you should get an excellent idea of whether it's worth your time to read the whole book, because the contents page will show you, like a map, where you will start and where you will end. Apply the same thinking to your Hub’s title and sub-headings.
Where I Learned To Love Writing
I learned to love writing through my graduate work at Arcadia University, where my heart became full with the desire to communicate, to do it well, and to use communications skills to make a difference.
Arcadia (aka Beaver) has one of the finest English Masters programs in the USA, perhaps in the world. That's because the university committed to integrating American life with international life, even before the name change and even before "global" was a well-known concept.
Arcadia University used to be called Beaver College. With the advent of the Internet, the college had to change its name, because a search on "beaver", well, do I need to say more?
Check that Related Sub-headings Are Consistent in Syntax and Grammar
Strive for consistency in the syntactical and grammatical forms of related sub-headings while keeping your reader’s goals in mind. In this Hub, all of the sub-headings related to the three tips are in the same form: Do (something). What if I had written sub-headings like these:
- Writing Tools Work to Your Advantage
- Examining Sub-headings
- Look for the “So what?” Factor
I think I would have given you enough of a headache for you to head out on someone else’s trail (unless you are a loyal fan of mine who is willing to put aside painful moments for my sake).
Also, I could have written the sub-headings this way:
- Writing Tools that Work to Your Advantage
- Techniques for Examining the Effectiveness of Sub-headings
- More Techniques for Keeping Your Reader's Attention
These are all consistent in form and syntax, but they are boring as hell and therefore have little value for your reader. Who wants to follow this boring path?
Strive to engage your reader with the promise of an exciting journey’s end.
More from Sally on Writing
Tip 3 - Re-read for the “So what?” Factor
When your reader finds himself saying “So what?” as in, “So, what’s the point?”, or worse, “Why should I care?”, then you’ve lost him. If you leave a passage in your writing that triggers this response, I guarantee that the rest of your work will not be read, and the back or forward button will be clicked.
Here’s an example.
Brilliant fall colors greeted me as my car made its way up the rugged road to my uncle’s cabin. Fall colors include reds, yellows, oranges, ambers, and browns. The glorious colors punched a hole in my heart, precisely in the place that missed him so much.
Hey, who cares about what the characteristics of fall colors are at this point in the telling? I, the reader, want to get to the uncle-love, to the point of the story. Now, thanks to this digression into the characteristics of fall colors, I’m outta here.
The digressive, off-the-cuff words that don’t contribute to the message you want to deliver need to go. If they don’t go, then your reader does.
Off-the-cuff thoughts are important in developing your drafts. They are the ways to examine yourself in order to come to an ultimate meaning. But in your published Hub, these ramblings are not only superfluous, they are also a sure-fire way to send your reader down any path other than the one you intend.
Your Hubs Will Be Fine-tuned and They Will Be Read
If you follow these three simple steps, your Hubs have a better than good chance of being read and shared.
What Do You Think?
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