Need Help Revising?
13 Tips from Master Writers
Spring, that magical time of rebirth, is almost here. It makes me think of turning the soil in my garden and putting in seeds and new plants. I think about renewal and change. Then I muse over when the bulbs I’ve tucked into the ground will emerge and what they’ll look like. I anticipate flowers -- exquisite and lovely.
I hope for the unexpected surprise as well as expected results.
Revising for me is a lot like those bulbs I place into the ground in fall. I read over what I’ve written and see if I can make it stronger -- choosing better verbs or cutting out extraneous adverbs, lines, paragraphs and scenes. I see if I can make sentences and sections clearer, less awkward and more power-packed.
Most of time, the hope that I can improve my writing keeps me going. But for those moments when I feel like giving up on a particular page or chapter, I remember that others have experienced what I’m going through and they’ve usually succeeded in improving their manuscripts. I enjoy reading their advice. It perks up my spirits.
Header from samulli
I bet their tips will encourage you, too. Here goes:
1. To be a writer is to throw away a great deal, not to be satisfied, to type again and then again and once more, over and over. -- John Hersey
2. I can't write five words but that I change seven. -- Dorothy Parker
3. Hard writing makes easy reading. Easy writing makes hard reading. -- William Zinsser
4. The beautiful part of writing is that you don't have to get it right the first time, unlike, say, a brain surgeon. You can always do it better, find the exact word, the apt phrase, the leaping simile. -- Robert Cormier
5. In working on a poem, I love to revise. Lots of younger poets don't enjoy this, but in the process of revision I discover things. -- Rita Dove
6. Don't Tell me the moon is shining; Show me the glint of light on broken glass. -- Anton Chekhov
7. Books aren't written -- they're rewritten. Including your own. It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn't quite done it. -- Michael Crichton
8. Writing is rewriting. A writer must learn to deepen characters, trim writing, intensify scenes. To fall in love with the first draft to the point where one cannot change it is to greatly enhance the prospects of never publishing. -- Richard North Patterson
9. Revision is one of the exquisite pleasures of writing. -- Bernard Malamud
10. Books are never finished; they are merely abandoned. -- Oscar Wilde
11. It is with words as with sunbeams -- the more they are condensed, the deeper they burn. -- Robert Southey
12. My most important piece of advice to all you would-be writers: when you write, try to leave out all the parts that readers skip. -- Elmore Leonard
13. You write to communicate to the hearts and minds of others what's burning inside you. And we edit to let the fire show through the smoke. -- Arthur Polotnik
Do you have a revision story or a gardening tale you’d like to share? I’m all ears.
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