First draft of paragraph – boring. It lacks the punch and the effect of the scene that I really wanted to convey…
As Nathaniel wandered around aimlessly he stumbled and fell down more stones that he could not see and did not know existed. He laid at the edge of an eternal darkness and became full of despair while fear and sadness began to overtake him.
Second draft of paragraph published. Wow! What weight, what a memorable paragraph that shows so much…
Nathaniel rose dizzily and stumbled around, then tumbled down the stygian ledges; and his scream was muffled by the sheer terror of falling into the dark abyss. When he finally sprawled to a stop, he was beaten and battered and bruised all over; and his moans and groans caused by the stones were amplified by the silence that surrounded his strange, solitary situation.
This is what happens because I am never satisfied with my writing, I always feel I can take it to the next level. I am always looking for rhythm in a sentence or paragraph, I am always looking for the poetic feel. Obviously the first draft of the paragraph was enough for me to continue to write my next thought but during the self-editing process I am not only looking for mistakes, I am looking for ways to add flavor and variety to my writing so as to develop my personal style.
In a novel this big where it is 350 pages long there is no way that I can fluff up every sentence and there really is no need to but where there are highs and lows in the body of the work the necessary time should be taken to write something memorable.
One of the things I do when writing a paragraph like this, in the initial rewriteÂ I took all the “to be” verbs out; was and were. Unfortunately I put them back in in the final draft but I’m actually fine with them because they are silenced by all the other literary devices being used. In fact it is a good rule of thumb that after the first draft of a manuscript is finished that you would go back and eliminate 90% of all “to be” verbs in your book. They are passive and lack any power in getting the story to move forward with any type of speed or flow. They also completely lack description and if I had to do it over again I would have omitted the first “was” in the above paragraph. There really is no need for it.
When doing your first rewrite and personal edit remove 90% of all “to be” verbs and remove 95% of all adverbs. You must find a way to write a clear and powerful sentence or paragraph without the use of those two literary killers.
Next after that is done take the time to find the poetry and the rhythm in the climatic sentences and paragraphs. It will add weight and make them memorable.
Once the literary killers are removed go ahead and add in the literary devices. The best book on the use of literary devices is Word Magic for Writers. This book is always close to me when I am writing creatively or actually when I am doing my second or third or fourth draft.
Check it out…
stumbled around, then tumbled down – assonance
scream was muffled – paradox
beaten and battered and bruised – alliteration
moans and groans caused by the stones – assonance
amplified by the silence – paradox
surrounded his strange, solitary situation – alliteration