If you have not noticed yet, Gramlee is one of the newest sponsors of Daily Writing Tips. When they contacted me a while ago I was glad to accept them aboard, mainly because I think that they provide a useful service for both individuals and companies that want to make sure their text pieces are grammatically sound and clearly written.
A while ago I was exchanging some emails with Rushang, the founder of the service, and we thought about running an interview to explain what they do, and to talk about general writing tips. He agreed to, and below you will find it.
1. What is Gramlee, and why should people use it?
Gramlee is a web-based editing and grammar check service that everyone can use. It’s like having a personal copy editor who can magically make your writing technically accurate and professional. Anyone with an Internet connection can tap into the expertise offered by professional editors.
Our editors revise documents to better match the specific prose, style, and flow that the writer is trying to portray. We check for grammar, spelling, punctuation, structure, brevity, and overall readability and professionalism.
2. Can you give us examples of who uses Gramlee and how they’ve benefited from the service?
Bloggers are avid Gramlee users. Many people have amazing ideas that they want spread through their blogs, but they fear that their writing skills aren’t professional enough to show to the world.
Small business owners also rely on Gramlee. They use it to edit everything from marketing, sales, and business documents to internal emails and memos.
Job hunters who want to get an edge over other applicants use Gramlee to guarantee their cover letters and resumes are grammatically sound and professional. Having a professional and accurate resume is critical in today’s economic environment where each job can have an overwhelming number of applicants.
We also have many users from non-English-speaking countries. They depend on Gramlee to make their writing professional so their businesses can compete.
These are just a few of the people who use Gramlee. Short stories, business plans, manuscripts, presentations – we edit them all. Our motto is: if it’s written, we can edit it.
3. Can you share some of the interesting (or funny) Gramlee pieces you’ve received from customers? What types of things do you typically see?
Since people use Gramlee for both personal and business writing, we get pieces that span the entire spectrum from serious to outright hilarious. In fact, we just launched a Twitter feed about some of the more interesting topics we get: twitter.com/gramlee
One of the most inspiring Gramlees I’ve read was a letter written by a girl to her boyfriend. She was breaking up their relationship because she felt her boyfriend didn’t understand or value the meaning of love. In her letter, she explained what love meant to her and the value it carries in the scheme of life. The letter was so heartfelt and honest that we asked the customer if we could share it with fellow editors as inspiration.
Recently, we received a Gramlee where a student was writing a college application letter for medical school. The student was raised in a rural area in a foreign country. He explained how his family found an abandoned baby in a wooden box floating in the river. His family adopted the baby. The student explained how this experience marked the beginning of his passion of attending to the needs of others.
4. Can you give our readers a Top 5 list of the most common grammatical and writing errors that you’ve seen?
1. Punctuation is one of the most misunderstood elements of writing. You’d be surprised how many people are completely in the dark about when to use commas and where to place them.
2. Apostrophes. (It’s vs. its; they’re vs. their vs. there)
3. i.e. in place of e.g. (The abbreviation “i.e.” officially means “that is.” The abbreviation “e.g.” means “for example.”)
4. Of in place of have. (“Could of” should be written as “could have”)
5. Tense confusion. People inadvertently switch from present tense to past tense throughout their writing. Keeping things consistent seems to be a challenge for many.
5. Why do computers fail miserably at proofreading and copy editing?
Computers lack the “human element.” The human element to the editing process involves understanding who the audience is, what tone or purpose the writing serves, and how to best frame and structure the writing. A software-based editing solution just can’t provide this.
1. He come form the kitchen.
2. He came from the kitchen.
Try typing Sentence 1 into Microsoft Word and run the spell / grammar check. It fails to find the mistakes. A real editor, however, will instantly catch this error.
Now, let’s say you’re writing a horror story. Let’s take the same example and see how a real editor would edit your writing.
Original: He came from the kitchen.
Revised: He entered quietly through the kitchen.
The revised sentence establishes a more descriptive visual for the audience based on the context of the document – in this case, a fictional horror story.
6. How has the conversational style of writing that takes place in social media environments like Twitter and Facebook impacted the overall quality of writing?
People rely more on abbreviations and shorthand instead of professional prose. This isn’t really anyone’s fault; today’s digital medium is built around quick and seamless exchange. My only concern is that people are becoming illiterate in the art of writing. Acronyms and emoticons can never replace the impact a well crafted message leaves.
7. What’s the single most important writing tip that you can give people?
Two tips: proofread using drafts, and space out the time between your drafts.
Never produce just one draft that you submit as a final version. Even the best writers make mistakes. This is because our minds are not really wired to multi-task. We can only accurately do one thing at a time. The first draft of any piece of writing involves getting thoughts and ideas on paper, not ensuring that grammar rules are followed or the writing is completely professional.
Make sure to take a break between each draft you work on. The time away from the document will help your mind “purge and reset.” Once you have a clear mind, you’ll be able to approach your content with an entirely new perspective. You will also find mistakes that you previously overlooked, or come up with better ways to write something.