M. Knapp: Happy Revising

As writers, we may sometimes feel like it’s easiest to write when we have all the free time in the world and can just commit to our art.  Other times, it may seem like the only way we can focus on writing is if there is some rapidly-approaching deadline.  Whatever the case, it is important to take the time to breathe and REVISE.  It can be a hard process, especially when you’ve just finished writing. We are often so excited to have written something good and so invested in our choices that we can’t find it in our hearts to cut, rephrase, and reduce.

Here are some key things to keep in mind when revising: keep readers in mind, make sense, cut down bulk.

Readers aren’t always eager to whip out a dictionary, so we should keep that in mind before we whip out our diction.  In making sense, it is also important to keep the reader in mind.  It is easy to skim the details and leave settings or characters poorly defined, because as the author we can see everything so clearly in our head that it doesn’t need further explanation.  But we’re wrong: it does.  Make sure things are clear on read-throughs; don’t go overboard, but be specific and detailed.  Finally, cut down the bulk.  I had written a story with one paragraph that was quirky, fun, and well-received in workshop, but it wasn’t necessary.  Even in longer stories, some things just don’t fit. They may make sense in the theme, or are within the character of the story, but you don’t want to clutter up your story with nonessential fodder that leaves readers wondering “What did that have to do with anything?”

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