Revising, Style and Time

Tighter writing is better writing by making reading and comprehending easier. That writing, though, takes time and alters the style of a piece. In revising other people’s writing, crisp writing costs.

Before:

There are various underlying causes as to why our state’s elder care facilities function poorly. For-profit residences are especially noted for their rigid business competition, which may lead some to take shortcuts in their service. These may involve disregarding industry guidelines, cost-cutting on equipment, hiring untrained staff, and reducing staff levels altogether. A 2018 study actually found that 280 facilities in Illinois have low staff levels.

After:

Our state’s elder care facilities function poorly for many reasons. For-profit residences face rigid business competition, leading some to shortcut service. Residences may disregard industry guidelines, spend little on equipment, hire untrained staff, and reduce staff. A 2018 study found 280 Illinois facilities have low staffing.

The second paragraph is better but it could be improved with more time. As Montaigne or someone like him once said, “If I had more time I would write you a shorter letter.” Exactly.

This revision took five minutes to seven minutes to complete. A twenty paragraph work might require an hour or more. Given deadline pressure, revising the entire document might not be possible. To save time, excellent revisions could be applied to only a few paragraphs. That, however, would introduce two different writing styles into the piece, wordy and non-wordy.

A compromise must be reached. To get this revising assignment out the door, minor changes are made throughout the writing, not the best possible choices, but better than the original. My challenge with my own writing, particularly with my book, is to stop chasing perfection by endlessly editing. Deadlines can’t be met that way. I must instead adopt a workman-like style and let that be good enough. That makes perfect sense. And it bothers me.

Update: Thinking it over, for many writers it is challenging enough to produce content, never mind writing it with style or brevity. Just producing a story or a 750 word article may be all that a deadline allows, leaving finishing to editors. At some point, though, we must all improve. We must all work at getting better at what we do, be that writing, revising, editing, or all three. We can’t be the writers we were years ago. Something must have been learned and applied in that time.

About thomasfarley01

Freelance writer specializing in outdoor subjects, particularly rocks, gems and minerals.
This entry was posted in non-fiction writing, southwestrockhounding.com, Thoughts on writing, Uncategorized, Writing by others, Writing tips and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Revising, Style and Time

  1. Terrific post. I spent several hours re-reading my last post, each time looking for words or sentences to cut. My first draft was over 700 words, and what I posted was around 600. Like you said, with more time, I could have cut it down even more.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s