Thoughts on writing Uncategorized Writing tips

The Writing Process

Everybody writes and edits in a different way. Here’s an example of my process.

The first paragraph is my first draft and the following paragraphs the finished product. I hesitate to say finished because I will probably keep editing until I send the entire MS in. Names and locations are fictitious since this hasn’t been published yet. I use a great deal of commas in a first draft and then I doggedly try to eliminate them as I go on.


John Smith and Jane Smith operate Williams in the tiny town of Plainfield, north of Mono Lake, in Ozark County, Nevada. They create cabs and jewelry from their own mine, notably turquoise, and they collect other material from different Nevada locations. Smith is by upbringing and training a stone mason. I didn’t know all this until I came across their booth. As I talked to Jane I kept trying to remember where Plainfield was. I vaguely recalled a rock shop sign in that area but I had never investigated it while driving to Redding. And now, here they were. What I found later was even more fascinating. The last time I was driving by Mono Lake I stopped to read the information signs, all mounted on monuments with apparently local stone. It turned out that Smith had in fact built one of those monuments. . .

And after

John Smith and Jane Smith operate Williams Gem and Mineral Gallery in tiny Plainfield, Nevada. It’s just north of Mono Lake in Ozark County on I-45. The pair create cabs and jewelry, notably using turquoise and variscite from different Nevada locations. They also mine their own banded agate. Smith is by training a stone mason. I didn’t know all this until I came across their booth. I vaguely recalled a rock shop sign near Plainfield but I never investigated it. And now, here were the owners. The shop had come to me. There’s more.

The last time I passed Mono Lake I stopped to read different information signs. They were installed on impressive monuments built with local stone. It turns out Smith built one. What were the odds I’d meet the builder of something I noted on a lonely road to Redding? And what were the chances I’d run into two such young and creative people almost six hundred miles from their home? [Paragraph continues for another two sentences.]

What was changed 

Replaced “in the tiny town of Plainfield” with “tiny Plainfield .”

Eliminated the comma after Mono Lake.

Eliminated “upbringing”

Reworded this “from their own mine, notably turquoise” because they actually own an agate mine, not a turquoise mine.

Eliminated the entire sentence “As I talked to Jane I kept trying to remember where Plainfield was.”

Changed “with apparently local stone” to the more forceful and certain “built with local stone”.

Broke into two pieces what was going to be a very long paragraph by adding “There’s more.” This ties into eliminating the sentence “What I found later was even more fascinating.”  Don’t say something is fascinating. Instead, describe why it is fascinating.

Shortened “The last time I was driving by Mono Lake” to “the last time I passed Mono Lake.”

Added “The shop had come to me.”

Eliminated “in fact”.

Notice anything else?

Truman Capote edited manuscript.

By thomasfarley01

Business writer and graphic arts gadfly.

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