Earlier this week, I sent an email to my daughter’s academic advisor explaining I was supportive of her plans to finish the semester at home if her professors would allow it. In the email, I wrote that Bethany is a conscientious student. I copied her and my husband, Mark as a courtesy.
The next morning, Mark very gently pointed out to me that I had written Bethany is a very contentious student.
No, she’s very agreeable. I’m the one who’s contentious. Sigh. Mark would have caught the mistake had he read my email before I sent it.
While it’s not practical for someone else to read every email we send, we can improve the quality of our work if we allow each other to read what we have written before we turn it in. We call this process peer editing.
If you are the writer, consider finding someone to read your piece. Then ask these questions:
1. Does it make sense?
2. Is it interesting?
3. At what point did you want to stop reading?
Pay close attention to the spot where your reader wanted to stop reading. Check your verbs. Are they active enough? Can you find a more compelling way to move the action along in your prose?
If you read someone else’s work, ask yourself these questions:
1. Does the writer pull one main point all the way through the piece?
2. Is the piece organized so that you can easily understand it without the writer’s help?
3. Is it interesting?
Use the answers to these questions to give helpful feedback.
From time to time, my son, the engineering student, sends me research papers to read for him. I’m the perfect audience. While I don’t understand much of the technical material, I can figure out whether or not his information follows a logical progression. After I provided feedback on one of his pieces, he added illustrations so that his readers could see what he described.
Your work isn’t published until someone else reads it. Maybe the bravest part of the process is turning your work over to someone else so you can listen to their feedback.