When Do Your Eyes Glaze Over?

“A reader’s eyes may glaze over after they take in a couple of paragraphs about Canadian tariffs or political developments in Pakistan; a story about the reader himself or his neighbors will be read to the end.” Donald E. Graham — Brainyquote.com (external link)

It is at precisely the point where our eyes glaze over that we need to rewrite. This is the danger zone, for wanting something interesting, we scan over boring writing and seek something better farther on. If we, as writers, can’t maintain concentration, how can our readers?

This is also the place for the closest editing when we proofread for other people. A really boring spot means we really have to pay attention. Skipping boring text means skipping possible mistakes. Slow down. Re-read. Concentrate.

I’m currently battling a bad paragraph. What I’ve written is accurate but hard to follow. The text needs an illustration which it will have. But what else can be done? Rather than reword, I think a list might help. See which one you like below. Here’s the original paragraph:

N 1/2 SE 1/4, SW 1/4, S24, T32N, R18E

Locating a property is best done by reading the description backwards. Yes, backwards. First, the principal meridian is determined, in this case the Mount Diablo Meridian or MDM. Next, the township is located. Look for township and range numbers. In this instance T32N, R18E.  Having located the township, the legal description’s next part reads S24. That stands for section 24, on the east side of the township. After finding section 24, the next identifier is SW ¼. This places the property in the southwest corner of section 24. Next, SE ¼. That’s the southwest part of the previous, larger quarter. Still following? Lastly, the ½ identifier. This puts the parcel in the north ½ of the quarter just discussed. This indicates a 20-acre property, a common mining claim size.

N 1/2 SE 1/4, SW 1/4, S24, T32N, R18E

Locating a property is best done by reading the description backwards. Yes, backwards.

A. First, the principal meridian is determined, in this case the Mount Diablo Meridian or MDM.

B. Next, the township is located. Look for township and range numbers. In this instance T32N, R18E.

C. Having located the township, the legal description’s next part reads S24. That stands for section 24, on the east side of the township.

D. After finding section 24, the next identifier is SW ¼. This places the property in the southwest corner of section 24.

E. Next, SE ¼. That’s the southwest part of the previous, larger quarter. Still following?

F. Lastly, the ½ identifier. This puts the parcel in the north ½ of the quarter just discussed. This indicates a 20-acre property, a common mining claim size.

N 1/2 SE 1/4, SW 1/4, S24, T32N, R18E

Locating a property is best done by reading the description backwards. Yes, backwards.

  • First, the principal meridian is determined, in this case the Mount Diablo Meridian or MDM.
  • Next, the township is located. Look for the township and range numbers. In this instance T32N, R18E.
  • The legal description’s next part is S24. That stands for section 24, on the east side of the township.
  • After finding section 24, the next identifier is SW ¼. This places the property in the southwest corner of section 24.
  • Next, SE ¼. That’s the southwest part of the previous, larger quarter. Still following?
  • Lastly, the ½ identifier. This puts the parcel in the north ½ of the quarter just discussed. This indicates a 20-acre property, a common mining claim size.

I like the list in A, B, C, D format, with white space beneath each line. Bullet points have never appealed to me. Is there another way that you would break apart the text to provide easier reading? Or would you rewrite entirely the original paragraph?

About thomasfarley01

Freelance writer who specializes in history, technology, and human interest stories.
This entry was posted in Thoughts on writing, Uncategorized, Writing tips and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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