Writing Lessons 11 – Rewriting

I’ve recently discovered that I’ve been listed for the shortlist of the HWA SHARPE BOOKS GOLD CROWN award. It’s the prize for the best historical novel of the year, and as such a remarkably prestigious award. I’m very proud to read that Pilgrim’s War has been recognised for this. Wish me luck!

Writing, it has been said, is rewriting. Here’s an example:

“This has been a busy weekend. Dartmoor Folk Festival, lots of guests sharing space in our sitting room, manning my own bookstall (I sold lots of Last Templars, Merchant’s Partners, and the Vintener Trilogy this time. Strange how every year there are some clear winners in terms of popularity – and now my office has a little more space in it, at last!), walking the dogs, and stewarding duties, made for an absolutely exhausting time.”

That, as you can see, is a horrible paragraph to read. It was how my mind was working as I wrote, but with a dash in the middle of a clause, and brackets separating things, it’s not a good sentence.

It is what I mean when I say that writing  really needs rewriting. The first bit is fine. It was a busy weekend: says it all, really. It’s the next sentence that takes up the majority of the paragraph that is the problem:

“Dartmoor Folk Festival, lots of guests sharing space in our sitting room, manning my own bookstall (I sold lots of Last Templars, Merchant’s Partners, and the Vintener Trilogy this time. Strange how every year there are some clear winners in terms of popularity – and now my office has a little more space in it, at last!), walking the dogs, and stewarding duties, made for an absolutely exhausting time.”

It really is extremely unclear. Let’s clarify things.

“This has been a busy weekend. The village hosted the Dartmoor Folk Festival. We had lots of guests who shared space in our sitting room, while I spent the two days stewarding events in the main marquee, walking the dogs, and manning my bookstall. My office has become full of stock books, so I was glad to sell a lot and create a little space! It’s strange how every year there are different winners in terms of popularity. This year they seemed to be The Last Templar, The Merchant’s Partner and The Vintener trilogy. I would have sold many more Bloody Mary series titles, but I’d sold out before the Festival! A great weekend, but exhausting.”

Still not perfect, by any stretch, but it is a little more clear and easy to read. I’ve changed two sentences into seven, I think. Each is more easy to read, shorter, and logical. The first effort was more of a brain-dump, which is fine, and often won’t need too much to improve it. The second was a more considered paragraph, and reads much more clearly.

So, the moral is, try to keep to shorter sentences, keep them more active, and try to keep a logical flow to the way you write.

Happy writing!

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Comments
4 Responses to “Writing Lessons 11 – Rewriting”
  1. Congrats big fella. Hope it goes the way it should.

    Like

  2. Lindsey Russell says:

    Busy indeed. Bet you’re looking forward to the relative break of getting back to writing :)

    Long list is good, short list is better, fingers crossed you can top that.

    Like

  3. cazzas says:

    Congratulations. Well deserved.

    Like

  4. Jack Eason says:

    Reblogged this on Have We Had Help? and commented:
    Guess what? My hard working friend Michael has been shortlisted!

    Like

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