Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Revision: the hard sell
I just picked this book up from the library today and I absolutely love the cover.
Revision is such a hard concept to sell. Students often think that if they communicated their thoughts and vomited them all out on the page, then their job is done. It's difficult for them to understand why you need to find accurate, precise words and have sentences that flow like music.
This cover is so simple, yet immensely effective at getting the point across - especially if the students understand what the cover phrases are alluding to.
I hope the book is just as delightful as the cover.
For a change of pace, check out this fabulous Dystopian lit giveaway on Lenore's blog.
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I'll be interested to hear your thoughts after you've read it. Even professional writers and journalists struggle with revision. I'm reminded of two things as I read your post. One is the first time I heard someone talk about why, as a reporter, you need to pick information carefully from your notes when writing a story. Just because you have it in your notes does not mean it needs to be in your story, even if it is interesting. Carefully crafted stories should not be just dumping the notebook into the computer.ReplyDelete
The second thing is something my boss has said to some reporters who have struggled with their writing. He often asks them to read their leads (the first sentence/paragraph) outloud. Theoretically things work on paper but can sound silly or at least not the right tone for certain audiences when said outloud.
We also talk about the "breath test." This isn't so much an issue for non-news writing, but when writing for brevity/conciseness the goal is to be able to read a sentence without having to pause in the middle and take a breath. Sometimes reporters try to cram in so much stuff into one sentence that it becomes overwhelming.
I think even non-reporters need to heed the advice of what you're talking about in your first paragraph. I often find myself writing more information than I need to and muddy my point. My long-winded self just can't resist the hypnotic sound of the keyboard. I have to keep typing and typing and typing and typing and... see, there I go again! :o)ReplyDelete
(BTW, I teach leads to my 6th graders in September. They are very well versed as to what a lead is come June.)