Freelance writers: should clients get to see your notes?

A startup recently hired me to write a tag-line and a paragraph of description about their company. I spent most of a day with different groups of their people and took notes on my PC. The next day, as I was working on the assignment, the client asked for a copy of my notes. I’d never gotten that … Continued

13 proofreading hacks based on the psychology of reading

Typos and mistakes seem inevitable. While you can delegate the proofreading job to someone else who’s an expert nitpicker, that’s not always practical when we’re all sending emails, blogging, and posting on social networks at real-time speed with little editing. But if you’re smart about how brains see (and don’t see) errors, you can catch more … Continued

Should you start with a story or a lede?

The best way to hook an audience is to start with a story. The best way to get people to read what you write is with a descriptive title and a few summary sentences (or as journalists call it, a lede). How do you resolve these contradictory pieces of advice? When I got this question … Continued

The 11 qualities of highly paid, ultra-valuable editors

Some editors get paid $40 per hour. Others charge $400 — and their clients are glad to pay it. What could an editor possibly do to be worth this much? An ultra-valuable editor is a writer’s essential partner, enabling writers not just to accomplish their goals, but to become better writers. To be an editor like that, you … Continued

Some stuff that doesn’t matter and some stuff that does

I was just thinking about what matters and what doesn’t matter, because, being human, we get it wrong a lot. It doesn’t matter whether the new Yahoo/AOL product from Verizon is called “Oath.” What matters is if Verizon can take a bunch of lame and aging properties and make them relevant again. If they don’t, … Continued

How to write a case study (Ask Dr. Wobs)

Dear Dr. Wobs, How do you write a captivating one-page case study that provides enough information to be understandable (and credible), but doesn’t overwhelm with detail? I read your blog post on preparing for an interview, and found it helpful, but I’d like more information on producing the case study. I’ve also found that “case … Continued

The hidden mental models behind the fight over the Oxford comma

A nasty, permanent spat burns in the heart of analysts of the English language. It’s the fight over the need for the Oxford or serial comma — for example, do you really need the final comma in the phrase “passive voice, weasel words, and jargon”? Now that a court in Maine has decided a case based on the … Continued