Give Your Writing a Revision Sweep
- Follow the stylebook. The class uses its own stylebook for formatting, headlinges, grammar and usage, etc. When a writer submits a piece, the publication or publisher expects you to follow certain rules. For example, when I write for the newspaper, I'm expected to follow the AP Stylebook. When I submit poetry or fiction, many expect the piece to follow the Chicago Manual of Style. Best advice: familiarize yourself with the publication to which you are submitting and get up close and personal with the style guide.
- Use your grammar text. My preferred text is The Little, Brown Handbook. It's thorough and addresses questions dealing with every aspect of writing.
- Highlight to be verbs. Too many times, to be verbs indicate passive voice. And even if they don't push a sentence into passive mode, drop the helper verb and push it into a tighter, straightforward, stronger sentence.
- Avoid pronouns. Pronouns tend to cloud a sentence by making an unclear reference. Make sure each incidence of pronoun use makes sense!
- Keep dialogue tags simple. Beginning writers like to pepper a quote with flowery dialogue tags. In journalism, the KISS method works best. A simple "said" carries a sentence/quote.
- Evict adverbs. Writers rely on the -ly words, but in a number of instances, the adverb does not add new information to the piece. Adverb overload slows the timing and rhythm. Use sparingly and for impact.
Revising and strengthening a story doesn't need to be a difficult process. A sweep list may make your nonfiction article or flash fiction piece squeaky clean! Or, at least impress an editor.
by LuAnn Schindler. Read more of LuAnn's work at http://luannschindler.com.