In this series, editor and author Christopher Klim takes you through a multi-level approach to revising your work. Excerpts taken from Write to Publish: Essentials for the Modern Fiction and Memoir Market.
All fine writing is the result of rewriting. I don’t know who coined that phrase, but it is certainly a fact. The first draft is the art of writing. The revision process exists to recognize mistakes and mop up the mess, and readers never witness the accident. Readers seek the ease of flawlessness.
LEVEL FOUR: PRESENTATION
With the hardest work in place, take time to examine the basics of language, before submitting your work to agents and editors. Mistakes in this category should never occur, but too often I receive student prose with grammar and spelling errors. Solid presentation separates you as a professional writer in every form of the medium, from advertising copy to fine literature. Make a habit of presenting clean copy.
Put stimulus and response in the proper order. The following is out of order.
Joe hit the ground, hearing the explosion.
Organize phrases and sentences in order of occurrence. The following sentence is out of order.
Joe won the race, after he filled out the entry application.
Build lists in order of increasing importance or impact. Without intending to be outrageous, the following is out of order.
Joe had a pretty bad year. His dog died. His wife left him. His computer caught fire. His mail arrived at the wrong address, and he stubbed a toe.
The passage suggests that Joe’s priorities are clearly out of whack. If this isn’t the case, the story must present a reasonable justification for Joe’s thinking.
Obtain The Elements of Style by Strunk and White, and memorize the first eleven rules. The English language is sinking into a lexicon of paraphrases, slang, buzzwords, and acronyms. Soon you will be one of the few remaining people who can still write and speak the language.
Most of us work on a computer with a word processor. It is easy to check spelling. Don’t get caught with spelling errors, or you will appear as if you didn’t care enough to proofread your words. When in doubt, consult a dictionary. Computers won’t catch ‘bear’ when you meant to use ‘bare.’
Christopher Klim is the author of several books including the novel, Idiot!, and the short collection, True Surrealism. He is currently working on a novel trilogy about the space program past, present, and future.