Revising, Style, and Time – Revised

Revising, Style and Time

Excellent writing takes time which you may not have.

Tighter writing is better writing by making reading and understanding 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 which leads some facilities 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.

Revising this writer’s work took me five to seven minutes. A twenty paragraph document like this might require an hour or more to revise. Given deadline pressure, that might not be possible. What to do? Produce one or two standout paragraphs and let the rest go? That results in two different writing styles: wordy and non-wordy.

Compromise.

Make minor and less impressive changes throughout the document. As always, concentrate first on a strong opening. Your minor changes will be better than the original. Stop chasing perfection by endlessly editing. Deadlines can’t be met that way and if you are revising or writing for others then deadlines must always be met.

For most writers it is challenging enough to produce content, never mind writing it with style or brevity. Just producing a somewhat polished article or story may be all a deadline allows, leaving finishing to editors. (I’ll write on editing soon.)

At some point, though, we must all improve. Those less impressive changes I mentioned should over time become more impressive. We must all get better, be that at writing, revising, editing, or all three. We can’t be the writers we were years ago. Something must be learned and applied over time.

As Montaigne or someone like him once said, “If I had more time I would write you a shorter letter.” Exactly.

About thomasfarley01

Freelance writer specializing in outdoor subjects, particularly rocks, gems and minerals.
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