Secrets of micro-revision #3: Testing your sentences

Once we get our words on the page, and rework them over and over, it’s the small things that escape our notice when we come to micro-revision. While we can search diligently for clichés and other language errors that trip us up, the one thing I find writers forget about is their actual sentences, and whether they’re working clearly as building blocks to pace, tone, style and voice. Some of the things that happen when we don’t pay attention to sentences are: Ambiguities and confusion, … [Read more...]

Secrets of micro-revision: #2 Rub out repetitions

There’s repetition, and then there’s repetition.  Good repetition adds rhythm to your writing – it can provide emphasis, and a sense of completion in an image or emotion. An example of this (in a crime novel) is: I stared down at the body by the fireplace – the blood on the bricks, the blood soaking into the Persian rug and the blood dripping from the sooty poker. We get the image – blood everywhere! Repetition of an image can also be used successfully in both short stories and novels. … [Read more...]

Secrets of micro-revision: #1 Crushing your cliches

There are several different stages of revision, from big structural down to micro copyediting. Each comes with its own challenges, but sometimes when you get to copyediting and final polishing, it can be hard to step back and give each and every word a fresh “going over”. One strategy is to scan the manuscript, looking for certain elements and marking each time you come to one that jars. We all have “things” we do in our writing, like tics. We are so used to them that we just can’t see them – … [Read more...]

Why Wikipedia is useless – and useful!

If you’re a student, you’ve probably heard a few (if not all) of your teachers say you are not allowed to use Wikipedia pages as references for your essays. There is a good reason for this – Wikipedia is written by “the general public”. You don’t have to be an expert to write an article for it, and have that article published. Consequently, although many, many articles in Wikipedia are well-researched and written by people who really do know what they’re talking about, a lot of others aren’t. … [Read more...]

5 grammar errors that drive editors crazy!

We all have little grammar things or words we can’t spell. One of mine is woolen/woollen, don’t ask me why! But as a teacher, over the years I’ve seen a lot of common errors that writers make, and all of them are easily fixed with a bit of careful re-reading before submission. The ones that drive me, and most editors, crazy are the simple ones you should know. Grammar is not a set of rules designed to make your writing life miserable. The rules are there so that your readers know exactly what … [Read more...]