Presentation on theme: "How to Tighten Up a Revision Hudson Bend Language Arts Department 2005."— Presentation transcript:
How to Tighten Up a Revision Hudson Bend Language Arts Department 2005
What Is This About? Tightening an essay means getting rid of extra words. Extra words make writing seem cluttered. It’s hard to focus on ideas because too many words get in the way. Take a look at this small small group of sentences.
All my intentions were is to experience prison from the inside looking out and not from the outside looking in. I knew if I played my cards right and if the opportunity presented itself I wouldn't hesitate or be afraid to experience a short period behind bars, walls, fences, or prison for that matter in order to get an insider's view. Blah, blah,blah! Why? This paragraph comes across as arrogant. The author seems so impressed with their own vocabulary. The message is lost!
OK. Now let’s tighten these flabby sentences.
My intentions were to experience prison from the inside, and I wasn't afraid to spend a short period behinds bars to get an insider's view. OR, even more tight: I wasn't afraid to spend a short time behind bars just for the experience.
Not all writing can be tightened this much, but most early drafts can be trimmed to the essentials. Not only does the meaning become clearer, the writing becomes easier to read. Many grammatical problems eliminate themselves during tightening, a hidden bonus, since they are the result of overburdened sentences created from a failure to understand rules.
Ok. How can I do this? I have always had this one dream. My dream has been to be a famous writer. Everyone would read my books. I would become very wealthy. I have always dreamed of being a wealthy, famous writer, read by everyone. A writer can combine several short sentences to create a longer one.
Hey! How did we do that?
Well, we cut the second sentence, changed some verb tenses to fit, eliminated the redundancy of the two “dream” words, and morphed the third sentence into a prepositional phrase. We ended up with a more fluid and mature sounding sentence. Tightening isn’t hard, but there is a kind of knack to it. Here are some suggestions:
#1. Look for words that don’t do their share of work: Change There’s a light on the scoreboard that flashes on and off. To The scoreboard light flashes on and off.
#2 Use strong verbs: Change In a cautious manner the car went around the corner. To The car negotiated the corner.
#3 Don’t pile up modifiers in front of nouns: Change: He was a weak, timid sort of individual. To: He was a mouse. Do you remember what this is called? This is where you can put it to work.
#4. Make the agent the subject: Change: The report was read to us by Mr. Coleman. To: Mr. Coleman read us the report. Fifty bucks says you recognize this one!!
#5 Keep it clear and simple: Change: Bluegrass music might be said to have certain qualities which render it in a disagreeable light to a clear majority of my peers. To: Most of my friends don’t like bluegrass music.
#6. Try combining several short sentences into a longer one: Change: I have this beautiful watch it is silver. It was given to me by my father. He gave it to me last year. To: Last year my father gave me this beautiful silver watch.
The aim in every case is to make your writing more smooth and vivid, more expressive of your meaning. In fact, that’s the aim of revision in general: to make every word work. back to present day