Tuesday, July 28, 2015

On Editing & Revising: Read Your Work Backwards

Yes, you read the title correctly: Read your work backwards. Start with the last sentence and then your next to last sentence. This editing and revising trick will allow you to focus on the punctuation and grammar, rather than the content.

Anything you can do to slow down your re-reading of a draft will help you to better edit and revise your work. Read your work aloud, too, as you read your manuscript backwards. We all tend to skim a bit when we read and reading aloud doesn't allow you to do that. If you stumble as you read, look closely at your syntax, word choice, grammar and punctuation. Maybe you simply stumbled or maybe something in your sentence is unclear.

You might also be interested in reading posts about strong verbs and editing vs. revising

Looking for more individual help as you draft, edit and revise your writing? I'm available to work with you one-on-one as your private writing coach. Click through to read more about my services and email me today: ChloeMiller(at)gmail.com

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Keep Your Drafts

Stop! Don't throw your draft(s) into the electronic or metal trashcan. Instead, save each draft. Devise a method (with dates, numbers or letters) to organize your drafts. You might make changes and then decide to return to an original approach.

I particularly love how you can make major changes to your writing and then undo them by returning to an earlier draft. The act of making large changes, like shifting a first person narrative into a third person narrative, might teach you something about your characters. You might find that a piece works better in the new voice or you might bring some lessons about the characters back into the original approach. Not only have you not harmed the piece, but you've learned something.

So, stop deleting and start saving.

For more, see my post How to Save Poetry Drafts Electronically.

Do you save your drafts? What kind of organizational system to do you use to save your drafts? I look forward to reading your Comments below. 

Monday, July 13, 2015

Read Like a Writer

As you read through those delicious books you saved for summer, slow down and read like a writer. Here are a three tips: 

1. Be a critic. Notice what you like and don't like. 

If you like something, return to the text and notice how the moment was created. Was it the verbs? Description? Suspense? You might outline the section or the entire piece in order to uncover the skeleton behind the writing. How did the writer create that moment? Learn craft from the text. 

And if you didn't like something? Do the same. Then avoid recreating the same structure in your own writing. 

2. Read the work, all or part, aloud. Listen for the music in the sentences. Reading aloud will slow you down so that you can savor the beauty, rather than just the plot, of the writing. 

3. Study the grammar. Notice where the author used long sentences and short ones in order to alter the pace. What kind of language did the author use? Did she break rules in order to grab the reader's attention? Is she writing more formally or using colloquial slang? Grammar offers guidelines, but it changes with usage. The author is potentially a part of that larger change. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Writing Prompt: Deep Breaths

Even Union Station, D.C., can be peaceful 
if you look up and take three deep breaths

We encourage our son to take three deep breaths when he's frustrated. The purposeful act of pausing, breathing in and breathing out changes your emotions and sense of being, as mediators know well.

For today's prompt, sit in a quiet, cool and dim space. Move away from the hectic work/work/sunshine/rainstorm excitement of summer and take three deep breaths. Notice where the breaths take you physically, emotionally and creatively.

Set a timer and write for ten minutes. Don’t worry about spelling or writing in complete sentences. Just jot down ideas as them come to you. If you can’t think of anything, write, “I don’t know what to write” until you get bored with that and start to think about something else. 

The prompt might lead you in a different direction and your result might not have anything to do with the five senses or even summer. But that’s the idea – it is a prompt to get you started. 

I'd love to know where you end up, if you'd like to share your thoughts in the Comments section below. 

Click through for more writing prompts