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Revision Tips for Writers

 

We can all agree writing is a joy. It’s fun and many of us make our living doing it. But, there are parts of the publishing aspect that can be frustrating and difficult. Most of us find revision to be the most difficult hurdle. “I like it the way it is. Everything there is important and I don’t see anything that needs changing.” How many of us have approached the revision process with that mindset? I think we all have, at times. In other words, you are not alone.

Although I am an editor as well as a writer, I don’t find revising my work to be easy. However, I’ve collected tidbits of advice from several writers and editors. I’ve found them helpful, so I’m sharing them here:

  1. Revise big stuff first, make small edits later. This doesn’t mean you should not correct obvious typos and grammar errors as you notice them. However, you shouldn’t be actively tinkering with word choice until after you’ve nailed down the structure of your piece.
  2. Put the manuscript down and walk away. Writers need at least a little distance from their manuscripts before jumping into revision.
  3. Scan the whole manuscript without reading. Scanning can make big problems more obvious than a writer might not notice when reading closely.
  4. Read carefully. Take your time and read every word. Then, read it out loud. This will help you catch obvious errors and check for smoothness or the “flow.”
  5.  Look for ways to be more concise with your language. Can you turn a 15-word sentence into an 8-word sentence? Can you turn an 8-sentence paragraph into a 5-sentence paragraph? Less almost always means more for the reader.
  6. Use active voice over passive voice. There may be occasions for using passive voice, but for the most part be active.
  7. Vary sentence structure. Don’t fall into the trap of always writing: Noun + Verb + Noun = Sentence. Even if it’s grammatically correct, using the same pattern over and over again will make your manuscript boring. Don’t feel like you have to be creative with every sentence; just check that you’re not falling into a monotonous pattern.
  8. Save each round of revisions as its own file. Start with the first draft. Then, the second draft. Then, the third draft and so on. Saving these files provides a record of your changes and shows your development of the story.
  9. Have someone read the manuscript. The more eyes the better, because they’ll be more objective when reading, and they’re less likely to make “leaps of logic” than you, the writer, might. It is always best to ask someone other than a relative, who naturally will be biased.
  10. Print the manuscript for a final edit. There are things you’ll catch on paper that you won’t on the screen.

Take your time with revision. Set it aside for a few days, a week if you have the time. Then return to the work with a fresh attitude. Save your revised version in a separate file. Be sure you have addressed all of the editor’s comments. Do not ignore them. If there are some changes that you don’t agree with, write the editor a note explaining why the revision called for will change the meaning of your work. It’s best not to take exception to more than one or two editorial changes. If you and the editor are far apart on the way the piece is written, you may wish to withdraw the work and resubmit to another publisher. That, of course, is beyond the topic at hand.

Revision is necessary to polish the work for the reader, and the reader should be foremost in your mind. If you use these revision tips, you’ll be ahead with your revision process and find the editor is not the ogre you imagined.

 

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Parallel Structure with Prepositions

Writers often mistakenly withhold repetition of prepositions with corresponding sentence elements in the erroneous belief that those elements can share a single preposition. In each of the following sentences, a repeated preposition is missing, and a discussion after each example explains the problem and a revision resolves it.

  1. These developments are significant as the cost and influence of regulation on business models remains high in many industries.

This sentence’s construction implies that cost can share the preposition of with influence, but it requires its own, because cost is parallel not to influence but to “influence of regulation on”: “These developments are significant as the cost of, and influence of regulation on, business models remains high in many industries.”

  1. Such dysfunction can arise from incentives that do not encourage resiliency and management being out of touch with the customer.

Similar to the problem in the previous sentence, from should be repeated before management so that the reader is not led to believe that management corresponds to resiliency rather than to incentives: “Such dysfunction can arise from incentives that do not encourage resiliency and from management being out of touch with the customer.”

  1. They are designing preventive and detective control activities that are effective in the new environment, both from a risk-management and operational-scalability perspective.

For the phrasal adjectives “risk management” and “operational scalability” to be fully parallel, legitimately sharing the noun perspective, the second phrase must, like the first phrase, be preceded by an article: “They are designing preventive and detective control activities that are effective in the new environment, both from a risk-management and an operational-scalability perspective.” (Better yet, do so and transpose both and from and repeat perspective after each phrasal adjective: “They are designing preventive and detective control activities that are effective in the new environment, from both a risk-management perspective and an operational-scalability perspective.”)

 

New from Saguaro Books

BookCoverImage

List Price: $11.95

6″ x 9″ (15.24 x 22.86 cm)
Black & White on White paper
274 pages

ISBN-13: 978-1548323608

ISBN-10: 1548323608
BISAC: Juvenile Fiction / Fantasy & Magic

Would you risk everything just to be cool?

Young Duggan McDuggan really has no choice. Her habit of talking to trees has made her the most teased kid in her village. Duggan would love to stop the teasing but there’s no way she’s going to give up her tree friends. And so she’s worked out a daring plan to journey with her two best friends to Eshmagick, ancient realm of the Faeries. This will certainly stop the teasing. No one in five hundred years has made it there and back again.

For their dangerous journey, Duggan and her friends will need a Faerie guide. Unfortunately, legend says harming a Faerie will bring down a terrible curse and it’s hard to catch a Faerie without hurting it. But when you’re as desperate as Duggan, no curse is too scary to stop you.

 

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Meet Saguaro's Authors

Saving the best for last (?); meet our next and last author…

Dr. Robena Egemonye retired as an educator with over forty years of experience. She was nominated and selected to “Who’s Who among America’s Teachers”, 2005-2006. She was also listed in the Outstanding American Teachers National Honor Roll. THE FENCE MENDER is her first published novel.

 

Fourteen-year-old Blue MacGregor has been wheeled into the Raven Hills Regional ER. Why is he so badly hurt, barely clinging to life? What happened to him? Some of the ER staff dismissively refer to Blue as ‘poor white trash’ from Ergo Estates, a local trailer park. However, Dr. Vera Drake, the ER physician in charge, is intrigued. Blue reminds her of Marshal, her grandson. Dr. Vera learns that Blue is one of the last purveyors of a dying art –he is a fence mender. She vows to find out how Blue ended up in the ER and to do whatever it takes to ensure that Blue recovers.  Will Dr. Vera’s determination to help Blue lead to the truth or place her life as well as his in jeopardy?

Cover - Fence

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