how to revise a sentence | virtual book

how to revise a sentence

#essays #editing #writing Mentioned in how to coordinate metaphors

Suppose you have this sentence:

It leads us out of the present, leading to a life spent leaning into the future

Conventional writing wisdom would condemn it for using leads and leading in the same sentence. But, more importantly, it doesn’t sound right.

What if we prune leading out of the second part of the sentence?

It leads us out of the present, into a life spent leaning into the future

Now there’s a bit of tension around the comma. You can hear a touch of awkwardness when you read it aloud to yourself.

It leads us out of the present and into a life spent leaning into the future

Is that better? Or is there is still something off? If you’re not sure, leave it for now and read through the draft later.

In the words of writer

Verlyn Klinkenborg

Several Short Sentences About Writing (2012)

by Verlyn Klinkenborg

#reviews #writing #books Mentioned in how to coordinate metaphors, how to revise a sentence, I'm Glad My Mom Died (2022), what I'm doing now, what I'm doing now

This is my second review of this book. I have to say – it won me over, big time. This time I read a physical copy, and it was worth it. The spacing and formatting of the print gives the book a mysterious aura. You feel you’re conferring secretly with the author about a strange magic that hides in prose. He reveals what he’s learned about teasing this elusive substance into the right configurations. In the same words he explains to you and shows you. Some books about writing are sterile and tedious, but this book is on the other end of the spectrum.

Some of its advice has lodged into my writing brain:

Keep the space between sentences as empty as possible… Most sentences need no preamble - nor postlude.

Avoid writing your sentence. Play with it in your head. The range of possible sentence structures narrows after every word you put down.

Don’t be afraid that you’ll forget a good sentence or a good idea. Trust yourself. If it is important, you’ll remember it.

Lots of worthwhile ideas, many of which aim to loosen rigid rules and challenge habits taught in school. Are transition words and sentences really necessary? Do you trust your reader so little? You can get anywhere from anywhere. It also challenges conventional wisdom regarding “inspiration”, “natural” writing, and “flowing” writing. It gives interesting writing exercises like putting sentences each on their own line to compare structure, length, and rhythm.

I realized on second read that the author asserts in the introduction that this book is not dogma, but a collection of starting points. Also, my prayers were answered: the book contains a healthy share of sample prose.

Very glad I came across this book.

: Read until your ear detects a problem - a subtle disturbance. Stop there.