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How to Spot a Poor Writer

Copyright 2006 Julie Ann Amos You have a project to be written and you’re looking for a freelance writer. How do you know if the person you’re considering is a good writer or a poor writer? Besides the obvious things like poor spelling and poor grammar, there are other telltale characteristics of poor writing that you should learn to spot. THE BASICS The number one way to spot poor writing is by looking for the basics that we all (hopefully) learned in school. Poor spelling is an indicator of poor writing, as are poor grammar and poor punctuation. Even more worrisome, though, is that a writer whose work is riddled with spelling and grammatical errors is lacking in basic attention to detail. Think about it for a moment – if a writer isn’t thorough enough to run a simple spell-check and grammar-check on their material, what else do they ignore or not give their full attention? Another way to spot a poor writer is to evaluate other aspects of their work that impact the quality of the material.

READABILITY – there are software programs that evaluate this characteristic, but often it’s just as easy to gauge it by reading for yourself. Look for well organized material that flows smoothly and follows a logical progression of information. ADAPTABILITY – a poor writer often has difficulty adapting to different writing styles or requirements. Look at writing samples with an eye toward seeing how well the writer adapts to different styles and topics. APPROPRIATE STYLE – a poor writer will also have difficulty adopting a style that’s appropriate for the subject at hand.

Pay attention to how the writer matches style with topic and note any incongruence or awkward pairings. ORIGINALITY – a poor writer may lack originality in their work. This may show up as material that’s boring to read, or that just seems to sound like everything else you’ve read on a particular topic. There’s no hook or attention-grabber that catches your interest and invites you to read on. COMMAND OF THE LANGUAGE – a poor writer will typically struggle with their command of the English language. This shows up as improper sentence structure or difficulty with proper verb conjugations, and is often seen in writers for whom English is not their primary language. Find A Great Writer One of the surest ways to hire a poor writer is to go with the lowest bidder for your project. It’s as true of writing as it is of other things – you get what you pay for. We’re not suggesting you need to spend an exorbitant amount of money to get excellent writing. However, a great writer is rarely the least expensive writer, so don’t be scared off if the bids on your project cover a wide range of dollar amounts.

And take into account exactly what you get for your money, including things like rewrites, edits, progress updates, formatting, etc. A writer’s feedback and references are of the utmost importance. Look for someone who has client feedback that’s genuine rather than just a simple “good work, thanks” or something similar. A great writer will have a long list of testimonials that will give you a sense of their work quality and their reliability. Reliability is especially important because you don’t have the time to chase down a writer who has missed a deadline or neglected to send a scheduled progress report. Click here to see what we mean by great testimonials. SO WHERE DO YOU GO TO FIND A GREAT WRITER? The internet is filled with freelance writers and freelance writing marketplaces so stick with reputable sources. Look carefully at the fees associated with marketplace sites, too, because these extra charges can quickly add to the overall cost of your project.


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