Making the Best Better: Revising


Write in your natural style of speaking. Polish your style with active verbs, concrete nouns, sensory appeals, metaphors from your own world and experiences, personification. Avoid clichés and too many adjectives and adverbs. (It helps to be a poet!)

Let it sit awhile. Revise again. Find a good editor. Listen. Agree, compromise, or stand firm if necessary. “There are no great writers, only great re-writers”(Gerard). Buy a good grammar handbook. Read E.B. White’s The Elements of Style. It is a classic.

Polish your transitions. Build bridges between the summaries, scenes, and musing with creative connections. The other choice is the creative use of “white space.”

Add humor. Exaggeration, understatement, and irony are staples. Dixon says, “It’s not enough to see yourself [others/situation] as you are. You must also recognize and the accept yourself. When you start to laugh at yourself, you are accepting yourself as you are.” Rainer describes humor as “the unveiling of naked truth.”

Quit. There will always be more that you could do or a better word that you could use, but you must eventually stop or the work will never be published. You can always come out with a sequel.

Try to refrain from major editing and proofreading until the last draftS. First, work on global revisions of the content, narrowing your focus to the individual parts before you concern yourself with the details of style, grammar, and conventions. Don’t waste your time carefully editing material that you may eventually delete.

Is the overall structure logical, coherent?
Are the parts unified with the whole?
What’s missing?
What should be deleted?
Are the transitions smooth between chapters and within them?
Is the introduction compelling?
Does the conclusion lead to a universal significance?

Are the sentences stylistically varied and cadenced?
Have you eliminated clutter, wordiness?
Is your dialogue natural and punctuated correctly?
Are you consistent with your verb tenses?
Do you avoid passive verbs and employ active verbs?
Are your pronouns used correctly with antecedents?
Do have Subject-verb agreement?
Have you used the best, most specific word?
Did you run the spell and grammar checks?
Did you check the punctuation, especially commas?
Did you read it all aloud to catch awkward sentences?
Did you try reading the sentences backwards from the end to catch comma splices and fragments?

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