How to be a Writer (4): Mr Pernickity

Don’t let anything distract your readers from your writing.

Mr Pernickity jabs his elbow into my ribs, every time I make a mistake. When he wants to make me cry, he shows me an error in one of my books that got through proof reading and copy editing and into print. Or he asks me if I meant to split that infinitive. (Yes, I did.) Perhaps I’m weird, but I find spelling mistakes painful, which certainly comes in handy when you’re proof reading. Being particular about technique matters if you seriously want to be ‘a writer’, and especially if you want to publish your own work, because it is part of the bargain that you make with your reader. Nothing technical should distract your reader from what you wanted to say, because that would be lazy. However, it’s wise to remember that technique is not the same thing as creativity, which is something I’ve said lots recently (clearly there’s a book in that idea). But although Mr Pernickity and Little Miss Creativity were never destined to be a couple, they are certainly the best of friends.

“The details are not the details. They make the design.”
Charles Eames

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