Saturday, June 9, 2012

Good Advice, Gross Guy


A friend of mine recently told me about a writing exercise she uses for her advanced writing classes. She first asks the students to write a six-page paper on the subject of their choice. They turn that in as a rough draft. The second draft needs to be three pages long. Then she asks them to distill that three page paper down to one page. Then the students write one paragraph that covers the subject they started out writing six pages about. The final draft? One amazing sentence that says everything the teacher needs to know about the subject.
Brutal.
But what an amazing writing strengthening exercise! When querying, publishers ask for anything from a five-page synopsis to a one-sentence hook. It was fairly easy to distill my manuscript down to five pages. That’s a lot of space. But one page? A sentence? Well, that takes a good writer. I’ve found that the more I practice writing, the less words I have to use to get my point across.
As my eighth grade English teacher once said, “Great writing is like a woman’s skirt- long enough to cover the subject, short enough to keep it interesting.” Great advice from a kind of gross guy. Either way, thanks Mr. W for some of the best writing advice I’ve ever gotten.