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Posts tagged ‘writing and revision’

Discover the power of word choice

Whether you’re writing prose or poetry, word choice is paramount. The words you choose determine where the emphasis is placed in your line or sentence and, thus, where you draw your reader’s attention.

In honor of National Poetry Month I’ll use a few of my poems as examples of the difference a word can make.

From my poem “Suppose someday I say hot springs:”

 

Original:

will I remember our hike up Sol Duc,
how we riffed fingers over silk moss,
how we stepped stone to stone
over the creek that crossed our path,
how we posed for a photo on the rickety
footbridge dwarfed by fir and red cedar?

Revision:

will I remember our hike up Sol Duc,
how we riffed fingers over silk moss,
how we stepped stone to stone
over the creek that crossed our path,
how we posed for a photo on the rickety
footbridge under fir and red cedar?

As you can see, I changed the bolded word “dwarfed” to a simpler word “under” in the revision. Why? Dwarfed is a more unusual and striking word but, because of this, it draws more attention to itself—attention that I don’t want in that particular place.

My first choice draws my reader’s attention to the footbridge while the revision places the emphasis more on the “we” of the stanza and the trees—which is where I want it. Read more

Critique your manuscript with this checklist

For me, revising a manuscript is like putting a puzzle together — making all the pieces click into the right places. But without a plan, it can be overwhelming.

You’ll find many ways to approach revisions depending on the phase you’re at in the process. Below, I’ve offered tips I’m following as I revise my current work in progress. Maybe, they’ll help you too.

First, I print out a double-spaced copy and take a pass through it, noting where I’ll go back and make detailed changes. This is what I look for:

1. Awkward sentences, phrases. Note with an “AWK” in the margin and circle the sentence or phrase.

2. Vague or wrong words. These could be places where another word would be better or I want to get more specific. Common changes here include the word “some,” non-specific descriptors, such as “beautiful,” and places where I should show instead of tell. Read more

More writing nuggets from James Scott Bell: First steps to revise your manuscript

If you’ve just finished NaNoWriMo, you’ve taken a deep breath and are now ready to dive into revisions. In a webinar Tuesday sponsored by Writer’s Digest, bestselling author James Scott Bell revealed his strategy for revising manuscripts. Here are some highlights from his presentation.

First, let your manuscript cool off. He lets his draft sit for several weeks, then he prints a hard copy. While you can read it on your computer, Bell says he likes to recreate the feeling the average reader will have when they pick up the book. It’s also easy to make notes on the pages as he goes. Read more