7 Rules for Revision
Revising our writing allows us to go deeper,
think in ways we otherwise could not, and make our writing stronger and more readable.
Eliminate restatements (unless there’s good cause)
Stop at the top of the mountain
No plateauing, no slow “leaks” of energy
True of sentences, paragraphs, sections
Keep looking for better language
Circle obvious or familiar words or phrases and find fresher, more vivid replacements
Beware descriptors of emotion or diagnoses (“Show, don’t tell”)
The struggle for better language can open new discovery
It’s always too long.
Cut too much and see what you miss.
Trick: use a highlighter, and make a version that has only what you've highlighted. See what, if anything, you miss. (You can always put it back in.)
Make two kinds of cuts...
Pare away at language within a sentence
Cut (or compress) entire sentences, paragraphs, or sections
Another way of thinking about this...
Can a section become a paragraph?
Can a paragraph become a sentence?
Can a sentence become a phrase?
Can a phrase become a word?
Read what you've written out loud and see if the voice is true to you.
You’ve cut and compressed; what else do you want to say NOW?
Having revised your work, look at it with fresh eyes and ask where else the piece could go.
Switch from Editing mode back to Generative mode; start writing and go as far as you can.