Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Nice, tight, clear, concise
Does the word dangling participle or split infinitive scare you? They scare me because this means I missed something in my English class that I need to go back and review.
I read that it was as simple as a word ending in –ing, but as complicated as “A present participle is a verb ending in -ing, and is called dangling when the subject of the -ing verb and the subject of the sentence do not agree.”
By using nice, tight, clear and concise writing our sentences tend to take on a new shape and have more meaning. I read someone’s words today. She/he wrote many ANDs and he saw, she saw, they saw, all throughout the piece of work. I was going stir crazy trying hard not to critique the work pointing out the many uses of she/he/they had seen, did see or they saw sparkling stars.Conjunctions and prepositions? ugh! Way too many will not make the story tight and concise.
It might be a tense thing but still, overusing these tiny words can clutter your sentences making them intelligible. A thousand words in a story can seem like a lot of words. We look at them and say, “Wow, that’s a lot of words. I did good.” When you look at the piece you see a lot of words but is it good writing?
I know I always talk about turning the internal editor off while writing a rough draft, but for Pete’s sake, don’t post your rough draft, get a critique, and when it isn’t what you want to hear, vow to never write again.
You’ve posted a rough draft; you’re going to get a blunt honest critique. “Hey this looks like a rough draft.”
“Yeah,” you say, “that’s because it is.”
Why would you post your worst work for a critique? Don’t you want good feedback? Getting good feedback means that you (not me) need to do your homework and revise it to the best of your knowledge. It is beneficial to you the writer to get critical feedback. You need feedback for sustenance. How can you grow if you’re not going to take what you’ve learned and put it to good use?
By cutting those thousand words apart. Stripping the story of all the useless words. Adding the pertinent words will make your work shine. In other words, write nice, tight, clear and concise and you’re on your way. LOOK at your work as if it’s a precious painting. Pick out all that you see right and take notes. Most importantly find what doesn’t look right, and work on fixing the finished product. Your writing can be a masterpiece too!


Anonymous said...

Excellent essay, Joni.

There is that annoying little myth that revision entails a pass or two through the text with spell check and a tweak here and there that constitutes adding a period or banishing a wayword comma.
I've always thought that good feedback begins with structure and merely grazes upon the subject of punctuation. Why? Because when a strong revision is needed, sentences are clipped and pruned. Comma's are shed like unwanted skin cells. Nothing sacred. All this makes a pass with a grammatical magnifying glass unnecessary.On the other hand, foundational errors, like improperly used words, extraneous adjectives, run on sentences, and the like are more important to the story. At least, at that point they are. Although they are included within the description of grammar, I think of them more as structural elements.

Which is not to say that I wouldn't like an indepth critique when I post. I simply try to make sure the work is developed enough to make the inevitable grammatical corrections worthwhile. It's a respect I try to show my writing group so that their efforts are not wasted upon sentence that will never be seen in the final text.

Great work, Joni!

See, I am still here.


joni said...

Woohoo! Raven is still visiting!

You know...I have tons of visitors who are sort of apprehensive in leaving a comment. But that is quite okay, I know their there supporting my every word!

Thanks Raven for visiting and your sage wisdom added to boot! :-)

:-) joni