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Editing Principle 03: On the Internet, No One Knows You’re a Good Person

militarymuseumTone is easily misread. Try to sound funny, and you wind up sounding smarmy. Try to appear authoritative, and instead you come across as chilly, distant, and pedantic. Attempt to be provocative, and you paint a self-portrait of a glib jerk.

All this to say: If you mean readers well, say so. If you want sweetness and light to fill your audience’s day, say so. Don’t assume they’ll assume your goodwill.

What does this have to do with editing? It’s easier for a writer to retain an audience’s attention if they get the sense that the writer cares for them.

There are subtle ways to suggest empathy. It can be as simple as respecting their time.