I’m not a great micro-editor.
I write instinctually; sometimes a long sentence feels good, sometimes a short one. I mess around, but don’t put much thought into it. When editing, however, I’m not in the moment— I can’t tap into that instinct. Often I don’t know what makes good writing beyond good grammar and spelling. Rhythm, tone, flow… it’s kinda lost on me.
My instinct is starting to speak up in strange places, though. This is bad, I think as I write blog posts. This feels confusing. I’m not getting my point across. Usually it’s the form that bugs me— not this time. It’s taken a while, but I think I’ve pinpointed that feeling.
Over the past couple weeks, I read through the Query Shark blog archives. I wanted to learn how to write a good query letter. The form of a query letter, however, is simple. The author of the blog spent more time on flow, rhythm, and word choice. One in three queries had a note offering another version of a sentence, or another word choice, or a revamped paragraph. She kept asking, “Do you see the difference?” After reading about 200 queries and revisions, I started to see.
My ideas weren’t confusing— my sentences were clunky. (more…)