Saturday, November 05, 2016

Two Fun Writing Repairs

Was it my sixth grade teacher,  Skip Kulle, or my seventh grade teacher, Tim McElroy, who gave me this rhyme to deal with uncertain comma situations?

When in doubt, leave it out.

The idea of not doing something can be helpful in writing.  If a sentence or paragraph isn't going right, consider just dropping it rather than revising it. Or if you've made an outline for a paper and one part of the outline isn't as developed or essential and you're running out of time (but have met your word requirement), cut that part out of the outline.

The second nice writing repair is from one of my creative writing professors, Angela Ball:

Try the opposite.

If something doesn't seem quite right in a piece of writing, or if you just want to experiment to see what happens, consider trying the opposite.    A simple example from Dr. Ball would be

You're never going to believe this.

Revised to the opposite:

Believe this.

My happy memory is when she helped me revise one of my poems that did have a good insight in it but was needlessly depressing.  She took my main thought and wrote it the opposite way, and the poem became powerful and uplifting.  Similarly, I heard a leadership speaker once encourage the audience to frame things in the positive.  That's an idea I frequently remember.  While some things probably should be expressed sternly (think of the ten commandments and thou shalt not), the positive changes the tone of things for both the writer and reader.

Negative:  You will lose points if you turn this in late.
Positive:  To ensure full points, turn your work in on time.

You can be mindful and deliberate when you write.  Words can be experimented with--have fun and prepare to be amazed.


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