Ever heard of the ing sentence construction? It’s new to me, but once the concept had been explained, I thought, “Aha! I do that a lot. Time to stop.”
Here’s an example:
Grabbing the cheque from his boss’s hand, George ran for the door.
What, at the same time?
George grabbed the cheque from his boss’s hand and ran for the door.
Dropping ing sentence construction was one of the tips I picked up at a recent Book Revising and Editing Course I did as part of the Aye Write festival. It’s hard work rewriting and revising a book – far harder, perhaps, than writing the first draft – but that’s where the magic happens.
What did T S Eliot have to say about rewriting? “I maintain that the criticism employed by a writer on his or her own work is the most vital… and that some writers are superior to others solely because their critical faculty is superior.”
General tips for revising and rewriting include:
Check punctuation. Punctuation errors wear away the reader’s confidence in the writer and his or her abilities.
Shorter sentences and paragraphs are easier to read. As a writer, you want to make your prose as readable as possible.
The ing sentence construction. See above!
Dialogue arrangement. Generally, if a new person is speaking, put the dialogue on a new line. Make it clear who is speaking.
Read out your dialogue to check it sounds authentic.
Remove redundancies, padding and clichés. Redundancy examples include “screamed loudly”. Isn’t it enough that the person screamed? Padding includes too much description and lots of adjectives. Clichés are overused phrases, such as “cling on for dear life”.
Try to show, not tell. Angrily he put the book down. He slammed the book down on the table is better.
Other things to consider are:
- Is there too much exposition or back story? If there is, it feels as if the story is taking place in the past. This kills the energy of the story.
- Are points of view consistent?
- Are there too many characters?
- Are there any digressions or tangents that don’t tie up with the main plot?
- Is there anything you think, “I’m not sure that works”.
- Is there any possibility of a gap between your understanding and that of your readers?
If you can say ‘yes’ to any of the last four points, revise and rewrite.
I have plenty of material in need of revision. Having a list of issues to go through will help considerably.