Friday, November 18, 2011

Revision strategy 3

Because a few of you still seem interested in my college-essay patter, I'll take a break from Helen Vendler and share step 3 of my give-the-boy-some-structure-but-make-him-do-the-thinking revision suggestions. If you're wondering how I got to this stage, you may want to look back at strategies 1 and 2.

Okay, boy: after two thorough revisions, you've now built a decent organizational framework and found a fairly consistent authorial tone. So in this revision, you're going to move to sentence level. Sit down with your current draft, and read each sentence carefully.

*Are your nouns, verbs, and modifiers interesting? I don't necessarily mean fancy but accurate and vigorous.

*Do you notice any phrases that you repeat too often? (For example, in my own work, I often use too many "kind of" and "sort of" phrases; so when I rewrite, I have to make sure I go back and delete or reword them.)

*Are your examples eye-catching, compelling, and maybe a little unusual? (For example, how are you describing particular physical objects such as clothing or hair? If you're mentioning brand names or pop culture items, are they run-of-the-mill or intriguing?)

*Are your imagined or remembered events slightly exaggerated for dramatic effect? (For example, how can you tweak your mention of a second-grade teacher or a hip hop star so that it becomes more memorable?)

*Is there any imagined example that you feel, in your heart, is an unfair dramatization? For example, are you carelessly blackballing a particular aunt, school principal, garbage collector, or lawyer even though you don't actually believe said person deserves such carelessness? Who, in fact, does deserve your censure? Or is the censure inappropriate in this context?

No comments: