Friday, March 8, 2013

Self-Editing & Revision Tips

Shorten really loooong sentences. 

Make verbs stronger. As a general rule, "to be" verbs are weak: am, are, is, was, were, etc. Examples of strong verbs: argue, demand, coach, recommend, presume, tackle, break, sang, grow . . .

Eliminate unnecessary words. Example: He squinted his eyes as he looked up into the sky.

Ask yourself: What can be taken out of this sentence?

Answer: First, what else but his eyes would he squint? Second, we all know the sky is up, why state that?

Sentence rework: He squinted as he looked into the sky.

Remove extra backstory and too much explanation. Starting with a lot of backstory dulls the impact of your novel. Have faith in your readers--they do not need every minute detail to understand the story.

Show, don't tell. "Telling" versus "showing" is automatically seen as a beginner mistake.
Example: John was nervous as he asked Susan to go out on the date.

Ask yourself: How can I show John's nervousness?

Rewrite to show nervousness versus telling: John's face turned a brilliant shade of red as he approached Susan. His voice quivered, "Can I take you to dinner on Saturday?"

For more tips, preview Self-Editing & Revision: Straightforward Tips to Significantly Improve Your Writing >

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