Monday, March 29, 2010

The Importance of Revising

Writing isn’t only about putting words on paper. It’s really about arranging and rearranging words until they say what you mean. Many beginning writers fail to revise their work. They write a first draft and stop there. While you don’t have to completely rewrite what you write, it’s important to make sure what you’ve written communicates clearly to your readers.

To begin, check your work for misplaced content. This might be as simple as an event that’s out of chronological sync or a misplaced modifier. You may have a dull opening that won’t hold on to your reader’s attention or an ending that doesn’t end with a bang. Whatever you’re problem, a little revising can go a long way.

The most common reason for revising is for length. If you plan to sell to newspapers or magazines, you need to adhere to their length requirements, not write long diatribes in which you ramble all over the place. Today, the length of most published articles and short stories lies somewhere between 800-1000 words. As the Internet has threatened to take over the publishing world, magazines in particular have changed their layouts to reflect a “Web” look which means shorter pieces.

Start by deleting any unwanted content. Remove words like “very,” for instance. How nice is nice? Very nice. This word does little to advance the information in your work. You get the idea. Also, check to make sure you’re not using the same words and phrases continually. Create a little variety, and by using words that produce a more exact image to your reader, you’ll write clearer as well.

After you’ve deleted parts of your writing, you’ll be left with holes that you’ll need to mend. To do this, you’ll need to write new sentences, combine others. Be careful that you’re not asking your reader to make a leap in information. Never assume your reader knows what you’re talking about.

Another form of revising is a type of refreshing. When a book has been in print for a while, often publishers will ask the author to revise it for a new addition. This can mean new language and perhaps new information. In today’s fast moving world, a lot can happen in five years–an average length of time a publisher waits to revise a book. Travel guidebooks, on the other hand, are usually revised annually or biannually.

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