Friday, July 16, 2010

"On a Clear Day: Editing for Clarity and Publication: Part 4"

Welcome to the last in a four-part series on editing your work for clarity and publication. Today we describe, diagnose and offer fixes for problems that relate to order.

Problem: Readers can overlook this problem in short descriptions, for example, a character experiencing spring after the seclusion of winter. Jody can go outside, feel the breeze, see the sun and smell the lilacs. The order of experience here isn't essential.

Diagnosis: Even in this small example, order can improve the scene. For example: Jody opened the door and stood on the porch. The breeze carried the scent of lilacs, and the sun dappled the front lawn. Aside from more-detailed description, this phrasing works better because time and events unfold in a way that allows Jody's experience to satisfy her and the reader's innate sense of order.

Cure: One great cure for disorder is doing a timeline. This works well for scenes, chapters and plots.

There's nothing like clarity for good prose, and in this competitive writing environment, it can help keep writers out of the rejection pile, too.

Here's a great Writer's Digest article on how this works for a novel, "Your Novel Blueprint."

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