The Mark Blog

BOOKMARK THIS: Tips on Revision

From The Guardian, M.J. Hyland discusses the importance of revisions, how to avoid clichéd pitfalls, and stresses that there is not a single first draft in the world that is, or ever will be, perfect.

The article reads:
"I've never read or written a perfect first draft. Perfect first drafts don't exist. And yet most writers, at the beginning of their careers, think they must. This intimidating myth of effortless gift persists because successful authors aren't in the habit of admitting to writing weak drafts and rarely show the public their mistakes."

Hyland continues with a list of writings tips:
1. Remove exaggeration (tell the fictional "truth"). "The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one's real and one's declared aims, one turns instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish squirting out ink." George Orwell

2. Cut out cliches. "Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass." Anton Chekhov

3. Remove your failed similes. A bad simile is embarrassing, like a long joke with a weak punch line, told by a nervous comedian. "Kate inched over her own thoughts like a measuring worm." John Steinbeck

4. Don't attempt a final version of the beginning of the story until you know how it ends. (And don't waste time fussing over the beginning until the rest of the work is done.) "Be direct, simple, brief, vigorous, and lucid." HW Fowler

5. Do at least one of the following to help you see your prose more clearly:

• Write by hand

• Use an ugly font

• Read your work aloud, or have somebody else read it aloud

• Write your second draft without referring to the first draft

To read the full article, click here.