Tighten Up Your Writing #3

This post is approximately 400 words. There’d be 25% more, if I hadn’t…tightened up my writing. Yeah, that’s right: bad jokes and math on this writing blog.

Many of the writing questions I’m asked are in the category of “Where do ideas come from?” which usually elicits a response about “mommy and daddy ideas that love each other very much.”

But I also get quite a few inquiries about mechanics, which to this grammar nerd, is pretty cool. We can all put words on paper in a coherent order, but it’s challenging to do it crisply and succinctly. Especially the first time.  I rarely deliver a sentence that completely satisfies me after the first writing.

kneading

It’s like making dough: you can put the ingredients together, but if you don’t massage that lump, it’s not going to taste right. As someone who’s reviewed thousands of pages, I know that many people are satisfied with the lumpy dough of first drafts. I get it. There’s that impatience factor. But just as people are discriminating about pizza joints, so they are about books. They’ll stop coming for sub-par sustenance.

Not stopping at one draft is the key. The following examples demonstrate various ways to change up your thinking as you work through the editing process. Compare my lumpy messes to the dough I’m putting in the oven (he said, reconsidering his analogy).

  • resolved to the idea taking shape in her head
  • resolved to the idea forming in her head
  • I was reminded of something
  • I remembered something
  • I’ve removed something in the neighborhood of 6,000 words
  • I removed 6,000 words
  • Instead, he kept coming over to say things that were probably supposed to hearten her
  • Instead, he kept coming over to say things to hearten her
  • Instead, he kept coming to hearten her
  • Something was wrong and it clenched at her heart
  • Fear clenched her heart
  • The book is intended to illustrate the value of the sword
  • The book illustrates the sword’s value
  • lamenting how nothing in the world seems familiar anymore
  • lamenting how unfamiliar the world has become

Is each rewrite a tasty slice of pizza? Considering personal taste, that’s debatable. But I think you’ll agree, each revision is smoother and more palatable than the original, which should be our ultimate goal as writers.

pizza

Good luck with your writing!

–Mike

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© Michael Wallevand, December 2016

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