Recently, I’ve undertaken a major rewrite on a long-copy project. I won’t explain the project at this time, but I can say it’s a new form of writing for me. My challenge is to make the writing better after completing a first draft. I need to elevate the prose to storyteller level.
The task has caused me to me wonder, “What is rewriting? How do I do it?”
Of course, I’ve rewritten lots of things. Mostly it’s in the form of revisions on relatively short copywriting projects. Rewriting is probably too ambitious a term. It’s more like making a few changes.
But this has been much different. I had produced a long-copy draft that’s pretty good. In fact, I was fond of much of it. Now I needed to use it as a basis for a second, better draft.
Here’s one way I finally came to look at the task: How do I make each sentence better?
It doesn’t mean every sentence must be changed for change sake. It does mean taking a critical look at each sentence for any possible improvement.
I just brainstormed this list. It’s by no means comprehensive. Consider it a starting point for improving a sentence:
1. Find a better verb.
2. Get rid of the adverb(s).
3. Make sure it’s free of clichés and buzzwords.
4. Add a simile.
5. Make it clearer.
6. Shorten it.
7. Lengthen it.
8. Delete it.
What else? I’d love to create a long list: 99 ways to make a sentence better. OK, maybe not that long.
(Image: Pierre Metivier/Flickr)