Wednesday, October 8, 2014

When Revising Your Prose, Take Time to Tinker

For better prose, take time to tinker
A great way to become a better writer is by revision, and concentrated revision yields faster and more noticeable results.

Taking time to self-consciously tinker with your prose can yield more progress than hours at the keypad because you’re paying attention to the before and after as you write, and learning what works and what doesn’t in real time. More importantly, you’re learning how phrasing works and why, and that yields a repeatable technique, and a repeatable technique will stay in your writing toolkit.

Here’s an example of the tinkering approach:

Before:
The highway to the beach was bathed in sunlight, and the temperature in the car was getting hotter and hotter. Jim wiped his forehead and rolled the window partway down. He couldn’t see the shore from here but could feel it.

After:
The road to the shore shimmered in the summer sun, and the temperature in the Kia was rising like a kiln. Jim wiped his forehead with the back of his hand and rolled down the window. He couldn’t see the Sound from this flat strip of asphalt but could feel its pull like an outgoing tide.

To tinker with your prose, select a descriptive paragraph, and revise it slowly, sentence by sentence and word by word. Do the same with a short scene. This technique also helps settle the mind for improved focus.

Got editing questions? Share them via Word for Words. Happy writing!