Monday, July 27, 2009

An Editing Exercise

How many of our readers are also writers, published or trying? I hope my posts this week offer inspiration and advice for those who are writing and insight into how it works for the rest of you. Here's my plan for the week - a short exercise, a medium-long insight and final tips about dialog. Stick with me.

To use one of the tips from Margie Lawson's Deep Edits class, print a scene you want to improve. Before you begin other edits, highlight the last word in every paragraph. Is it a powerful word that drags you to the start of the next paragraph? A word with emotion, force, strength, meaning or imagery? Or is it a be-verb, a pronoun, an -ing ending (Kate would call that a gerund), a downbeat that drops the reader? If you're focusing on a paragraph, do the same with the last word of every sentence (that also catches repetition).

Darn. Look at my first paragraph. I used trying, you, dialog, me. Two pronouns and a gerund out of four words. Not compelling.

I'd love it if someone tried this on random pages of a book you couldn't put down and one you never finished, and posted a list for us to compare. If you have a tough hide, be brave and do it to your own work - a scene you think is strong and also one that you doubt. Tell us how it works. And come back for my other tips Wednesday and at the end of the week. Now go read, write and drink coffee. (FYI I took this photo at The Wilds, a conservation park near Zanesville, Ohio. If you're traveling I-70, it's a great stop.)

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