brightening and tightening
Having just posted a possible beginning to The Big Lie, I spent some part of last night revising it, after feeling irritated at its long-windedness.
This was a very worthwhile experience, in fact quite inspiring. I won’t put the results here, but they’re good enough to spur me to keep going, to really at last make a proper start with the book.
Though I don’t engage in it as much as some (I often wonder how some of them find time to make a living, or even sleep), so I should theoretically have more time to refine the language, blogging is generally a rush job, with the final product rarely satisfying qua literature.
A few months back I posted a review of a Cibo café, written before I’d even heard of blogging. It was a piece that quite pleased me, and a fellow blogger made a nice compliment about it, that it managed to say a lot with a minimum of verbiage. This is precisely what the revision process, better described as brightening and tightening, is all about, IMHO.
Method: take any piece you’ve posted – it’s usually readable and more or less acceptable as journalism. Don’t be satisfied. Remove all redundancies, rearrange sentences to say the same thing in fewer words. Target commonplace terms, find more striking replacements. Keep going till you feel you’ve exhausted all possibilities, then leave it for a day or two. Come back and go through the same process again. And again. Be ruthless, torture the language if necessary, twist it into unaccustomed shapes, and never underestimate your reader. They’ll get the idea, and be pleased with themselves for having done so, such are the smart-alecky pleasures of the text.