Readability is everything

Monday, September 3, 2018
Ellen van Neerven interviewed by Amelia Theodorakis

A portrait of Ellen van Neerven
Ellen van Neerven

The editing process is about more than just proofreading. For anyone working on a writing project, taking an analytical approach to reviewing your work helps to improve its clarity and effectiveness –as well as your chances of being published.

Ellen van Neerven’s books 'Heat and Light' (UQP, 2014) and 'Comfort Food' (UQP, 2016) have received awards and been recognised widely in Australia. When it comes to producing strong, publishable writing, Ellen says that readability and ensuring your writing stands out is everything.

We asked Ellen how she goes about tackling the editing process and what writers can do to make their work appealing to publishers.

What is ‘voice’? How do you know when you’ve found your voice?

Voice is your own sound on the page. You have found your voice when you identify what is unique about your writing. 

When it comes to the editing process, it’s fair to say that many writers feel a mixture of dread and trepidation. What can writers do to make approaching this task feel less daunting and more productive?

In the workshop I’ll be providing clear processes and allow you to see what rewards can come from redrafting. If you bring a professionalism to these tasks it would become second nature.

Having a piece or manuscript selected for publication is no easy feat. Your workshop will look at formatting, spelling and grammar. How important are these elements to a publisher?

Readability is everything. You might have interesting ideas and characters but they are not going to stand out when judges of writers competitions and publishers are reading thousands of manuscripts. It’s all about making things easier for yourself. 

What is the best piece of advice you can give to an emerging writer with a great story who is working towards publication?

Please come along to the workshop and I’ll tell you!

About Ellen van Neerven

Ellen van Neerven is a Mununjali person from the Yugambeh language group of South East Queensland.  Her first book ‘Heat and Light’ (UQP, 2014), a collection of interlinked short stories, won several awards including the NSW Premiers Literary Award for Indigenous Writing. ‘Comfort Food’ (UQP, 2016), a collection of poems, is her most recent release. Until 2016 Ellen was the Managing Editor of 'black&write! Indigenous Writing and Editing Project at State Library of Queensland. She received the 2017 Queensland Writers Centre Johnno Award and the 2015 Express Media Award for Outstanding Contribution by a Young Person in Literary Arts.

About Amelia Theodorakis

Amelia Theodorakis is a Writers Victoria Program volunteer, and a Melbourne-based writer working on her first poetry collection. You can check out her poetry on her website.